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Elisa Bauer of Washoe County

Social services in Washoe County, Nevada are trying to force a mentally disabled woman to undergo an abortion and sterilization against her will and the will of her legal guardians.

(Posted by Bryana Johnson on November 5th, 2012)

Elisa Bauer of Washoe County, Nevada is a 32-year-old woman who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome. Adopted by William and Amy Bauer in 1992, Elisa is an epileptic and is said to have the mental and social capacities of a six-year-old. She has continued to live under the guardianship of her parents since turning 18 in 1998, and they have legal authority to make final decisions concerning her welfare and health.

Unfortunately, while living in a group home away from her parents in Reno, Nevada, Bauer has been engaging in sexual activity that has resulted in pregnancy. Family members say they don’t know the circumstances of her unborn child’s conception, but Bauer insists that she wants to carry her baby to term. Now nearing the end of her first trimester, she understands that she will not be able to care for her child, but her parents, who support her in her decision, have lined up six qualified couples who are hoping to be able to adopt the baby, even if he or she is a special needs child. William and Amy have also been providing Bauer with appropriate prenatal care for a high-risk pregnancy.

So far this sounds like an unusual but not absurd story, albeit a sad one. It is a tale of the unfortunate consequences of alcoholism and a crumbling family structure, but one with the possibility of a happy ending – at least for one couple of hopeful adoptive parents and one child whose family has decided to choose life.

Enter Washoe County Social Services, who recently appeared on the scene to request a Court hearing regarding Elisa’s pregnancy. The social services department has expressed their concern that Bauer’s pregnancy will be detrimental to her health and that of her unborn child and are currently suggesting that she be forced to undergo an abortion and be involuntarily sterilized. A hearing was scheduled for this afternoon.

The outcry surrounding this news of a potential court-approved forced abortion has been significant since the story was reported by LifeNews.com yesterday. A facebook page for Elisa’s supporters has garnered over 1,500 “likes” since yesterday and a petition had been signed by almost 1,000 people in just a few hours. Not all of these supporters identify as pro-life, either. Facebook user Christopher Medina wrote,

“I'm def[initely] pro-choice, but this is just ridiculous. Our government is getting out of hand. She obviously wants to have the child but recognizes she isn't capable of taking care of it, yet willing to give it up for adoption to worthy couples. Where is the problem?”

After LifeNews broke the story on Wednesday, LifeSiteNews pursued it further, speaking with Bauer’s adoptive mother Amy to get more details about the events surrounding Elisa’s pregnancy. Amy said that she tried to switch doctors because Elisa’s doctors were pushing for an abortion, but was told by the judge that she could not do that until the case was over.

However, other medical professionals have weighed in on the Bauers’ side. LifeSiteNews explains,

Elisa’s pregnancy is high risk because infants born to mothers on anti-seizure medication have a higher rate of birth defects than the general population.  But the vast majority of epileptic women have healthy babies, says Dr. Michel Czerkes, an OB/GYN at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine. “Monitoring and screening in pregnancy is the recommended course of treatment in pregnancy for a baby who has been exposed to an anti-epileptic medication,” he says, “not abortion.”    

Amy says she and her husband also tried to bring their daughter back home to live with them so that they could monitor her more effectively, but the judge again blocked them.

Now the Bauers are concerned that the court is working to revoke their guardianship over their adopted daughter. When questioned on this point, Deputy District Attorney Dania Reid replied, “ That is not what this order says.” When Reid was asked by LifeSiteNews whether Elisa could be forced to have an abortion against the wishes of her legal guardians, Reid reportedly told them that the court “will be the ultimate arbiter” in determining whether Elisa will be permitted to keep her baby.

According to the Bauer’s attorney, Jason Guinasso, Judge Egan Walker asserted, “ I have inherent authority to [override the wishes of Elisa’s parents] because the court appointed the guardians and they are agents of the court.”

A second hearing has been set for November 6, 2012.

(This article was first posted at the Washington Times Communities.)
 


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