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SHOULD A WOMAN DISABLED BY BIRTH BE DENIED ACCESS TO HER CHILDREN? SHOULD THEY BE DENIED ACCESS TO HER?

I usually write about concrete concepts of law, and rarely make personal comments, but I am moved by the plight of Abbie Dorn and her parents who are being denied visitation of any kind with her triplets. Abbie became totally disabled during child birth. She held her triplets only once. Later the father divorced Abbie and has custody of the triplets in California. He and his lawyer are denying Abbie any visitation. The reasons are that she is in a vegetative state and cannot communicate whether she wants to see her children, and that it would be traumatic for her young children to see her.

As a family lawyer, I cannot conceive of a just basis for denying contact between a mother and her three children where there is no overt danger to them. I don’t have all the facts, but I would like to know what possible basis there could be to support this position. It would seem to me that some day these children are going to become very resentful of being deprived of experiencing their life, which includes a mother who gave her normal life for their birth. What other psychological damage might befall them? For the mother’s part, what kind of pain is she suffering but unable to express? What torture is she quietly bearing? If there are people, lawyers, or mental health professionals out there with viewpoints on this, I would like to hear from them.