A victory was announced earlier this week for South Carolina mom Abbie Dorn, 34, who was severely brain damaged in 2006 during a delivery gone horribly wrong. Through the legal efforts of her parents, who care for her full time, Abbie now has the right to 5 days of visitation per year with her 4 year-old triplets, plus monthly video sessions through Skype.
According to the L.A. Now blog of the Los Angeles Times, L.A. Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller ruled that while “there is no compelling evidence that the visitations by the children will have any benefit to Abbie," there is also “no compelling evidence that visitation with Abbie will be detrimental to the children."
Abbie can't move, talk, eat or drink, the result of oxygen deprivation during the triplets' birth four years ago. Her parents, Susan and Paul Cohen, have been battling their daughter's ex-husband Dan Dorn for the right to visitation for Abbie (he has full custody of the children and they live in Los Angeles).
Her parents say that in spite of her incapacity, "Abbie's there," and has learned to communicate using blinks of her eyes to indicate "yes" and "no." More importantly, they've argued, both Abbie and her kids will benefit from having contact. Her former husband (he divorced her after she became incapacitated) has claimed that contact with Abbie traumatizes the children.
Many commentators have pointed out that the Dorns' story raises questions about the rights of mentally incapacitated parents. But we also wonder about the rights of their children.
If you became mentally incapacitated, would you want your children to be spared the pain and difficulty of contact with you?