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Mentally impaired rape victim may give birth, judge says


ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–A mentally impaired rape victim who is seven months pregnant will be permitted to give birth, a Florida judge announced June 25.

Orange Circuit Judge Lawrence Kirkwood approved a court-appointed guardian’s report that carrying the baby to term and giving birth is in the “best interest” of the 22-year-old woman, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Two sonograms have indicated the unborn child is healthy, the guardian, Patti Riley Jarrell, said in her report, according to the newspaper. Jarrell could have recommended an abortion if the health or life of the woman, known as J.D.S., had been endangered.

J.D.S., who has the mental ability of a preschool child, was raped while living in a group home in Orlando, the Sentinel reported. She suffers from cerebral palsy and autism, according to the paper.

A similar case in the Miami area produced a different result in May. Doctors performed a court-authorized abortion May 29 on a mentally impaired rape victim who was six months pregnant. After a two-week battle over the unborn child’s fate, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Arthur Rothenberg permitted the abortion. Like J.D.S., the 28-year-old woman had been raped while living in a group home.

Unlike the case involving J.D.S., the mother of the Miami woman requested an abortion, and a doctor told the judge a full-term pregnancy would be dangerous for her, according to The Miami Herald.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush applauded the recommendation for J.D.S. but repeated his call for the appointment of a guardian for the unborn child, according to the Sentinel. “It is a compassionate and humane response, and the guardian made the right decision,” Bush said in a statement, the paper reported. “There are many loving families that will open their homes to this child.”


Bush’s request in May for a guardian for the unborn baby elicited criticism, especially from abortion-rights organizations. A representative of the National Organization for Women continued to call for an abortion for the woman after the judge announced his decision.

“J.D.S. is a rape victim. She has the mental capacity of a toddler,” said Carla Josephson, president of NOW’s Orlando-area chapter, according to the Sentinel. “So I question how it can be in the best interest of a toddler to go through a pregnancy and delivery. None of this is improving her life.”

Pro-life advocates welcomed the decision.

Robin Hoffman of Florida Right to Life said, according to LifeNews, “This woman has been assaulted once, and we are pleased that she will not be assaulted again by the invasion of abortion.”

Frank Nisi, Jarrell’s lawyer, said of the good health of J.D.S. and her baby, according to the Sentinel, “A lot of people prayed for her, and the prayers appear to be answered.”

Florida’s Department of Children and Families will gain custody of the child when he is born, end the parental rights of J.D.S. and place him for adoption, the paper reported.