Mentally Disabled Florida Woman Gives Birth

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 31, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Mentally Disabled Florida Woman Gives Birth

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 31, 2003

Orlando, FL ( — A mentally disabled Florida woman, whose pregnancy sparked a legal battle between Gov Jeb Bush (R) and abortion advocates over a guardian for her unborn child, has given birth.

The baby, legally known as "Baby Girl S," was born by Caesarean section Saturday. She has temporarily been placed in the custody of the Florida Department of Children & Families.

"She’s pretty. She’s got lots of hair. It’s curly," said Patti Jarrell, the guardian for the woman. Jarrell was at the hospital during the birth and saw pictures of the newborn.

Though the baby appeared healthy, it will be months before anyone knows whether she suffers from the same disabilities.

Following the revelation of the woman’s pregnancy, pro-life groups joined Bush and the head of DCF in advocating for a guardian for the baby. Abortion advocates agreed with a local judge who appointed a guardian for the woman, known as J.D.S. in court records, but not the unborn child.

A federal appeals court heard from both sides on August 21. Now that the baby is born, the lawsuit is now more of a battle over legal precedent than the particulars of JDS’s situation.

Jennifer Wixtrom, an Orlando woman who, with Bush’s backing, wanted to serve as the baby’s guardian, appealed the judge’s decision to the 5th District Court of Appeal.

Circuit Judge Jose Rodriguez granted the temporary custody because all sides agree the woman is not able to care for the baby.

Rodriguez also ordered DNA testing of the baby to help police determine who raped JDS and appointed attorney Lisa Augspurger to serve as the newborn’s guardian. Augspurger said her role will be making sure the baby’s medical needs are met.

JDS will be allowed to have supervised visitation of her baby, however Rodriguez made it clear that he doesn’t want to endanger the child.

"Any visitation should not tax the child," Rodriguez said. "This child is the top tier. I don’t want the child to be a rope in a tug of war. We cannot put everyone’s desires and needs before the child."

But, he added, "I don’t think there’s too much love that can be provided this child."