Separated at Birth

May 7th, 2010 by Kathy McManus

A severely disabled mother fights to see her children.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

The case of a severely disabled mother suing for the right to visit her three-year-old triplets "raises questions both legal and profoundly human," reports The Los Angeles Times — including "What is a parent?" and is the woman "still a mom?"

34-year-old Abbie Dorn has been paralyzed and unable to speak since a "botched" procedure during childbirth sent her into cardiac arrest and deprived her brain of oxygen. She is now divorced from her husband, Dan Dorn, who has full custody of the triplets.

Abbie Dorn has held her children only once — the day they were born — and hasn't been allowed to see them for almost two and a half years. Her parents, with whom she now lives, have gone to court on her behalf, The Times reports, asking a judge "to order Dan to let Abbie see her children. Dan has refused all requests, arguing that visitation would be too traumatic at their young age."

Dan Dorn's lawyer says that the triplets would feel "terribly guilty" seeing their mother — incontinent and dependent on a feeding tube — knowing that "their childbirth" was responsible for her condition. Abbie Dorn's lawyer says her client has a constitutional right to parent. "The children need to have a relationship with their mother," the lawyer says. "The kids need to know the truth."

You be the judge: what's the most ethical way to solve this case?