Religious legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, formerly the Alliance Defense Fund, is proud to announce that they have stopped a forced abortion case in Nevada. While tooting their own horn in announcing their win, however, they conveniently leave a few key facts out of their press release.
Some two decades ago, William and Amy Bauer of Fernley adopted six children from Costa Rica. All of the children were siblings, and all suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome. As a result of that affliction, the second-oldest, Elisa, now 32, is mentally challenged, and has other physical challenges. Because of these issues, she lives in a group home as a ward of the state, although the Bauers remain her legal, loving guardians.
It’s been a rough few months for the Bauers. William is the rector of St. Columba’s Church, which recently burned down in an arson-caused fire. About the same time, the Bauers learned that Elisa had become pregnant.
She decided with her parents to give birth to the baby, and arranged for a private adoption. Six qualified couples expressed a strong interest in the child. But that beautiful opportunity to turn something sad into something good was quickly challenged by one of Elisa’s physicians, who decided that – because Elisa is mentally handicapped – the baby should be aborted. When Elisa and her parents refused to agree to that, he alerted local social services, who took them to court.
For anyone who has followed this story via our coverage of it here, it’s easy to see what is being glossed over. Left out of the accounting? First, the fact that Elisa has the mental capacity of a six year old, making it difficult for her to make any “decisions” when it came to keeping or ending the pregnancy, or whether she should give the baby up for adoption if she gives birth. In fact, the ADF release makes it sound as if Elisa was the one arranging for the adoption, where as the guardians were the ones who had arranged potential couples to potentially adopt.
Also missing? Any mention that Elisa has medical issues that could have been complicated by the pregnancy, or that her doctor himself was the one who pushed for a court review after her guardians brought Elisa in to be taken off her seizure medications. That her own physician was concerned enough about the possible damage to her health that he would open an inquiry into a potential for arranging an abortion appears to be not pertinent to the story, according to ADF.
There is not enough evidence on one side or the other to make anyone certain whether or not Elisa wanted an abortion, or if her guardians wanted her to give birth and give the child up for adoption. It does appear clear that the judge had enough medical evidence to believe that Elisa’s life would not be at risk if she continued the pregnancy, and because of that fact there was no need to offer abortion as an option to preserve her health. If her health indeed isn’t in danger and there is no way to clearly ascertain her wishes, having her guardians make the final decision is the right choice. There is absolutely no need for ADF to mislead people into believing that they stopped judges from forcing a mentally disabled but otherwise completely autonomous woman who into an unwanted abortion against her will and that of her family.
ADF’s true feelings about the case, as well as how they view Elisa, is perhaps most obvious in their headline: “Victory Underscores Value of Life in the Womb of Handicapped Woman.” The focus is solely on the value of the “life” in her womb.
It’s a shame that the Elisa’s life isn’t being given value, too.