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J.D.S. Again At Center Of Abortion Debate
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 22, 2003

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA--A woman who was allegedly raped in an Orlando group home is once again being used as a pawn in Florida's abortion debate.

Governor Jeb Bush, the U.S. President's brother, sent a team of state attorneys to argue Thursday before the 5th District Court of Appeal that a guardian should be appointed for the woman's fetus.

The 22-year-old woman, identified only as J.D.S., is believed to be nine months pregnant as the result of a rape at her group home. In May, a guardian was appointed for J.D.S. who reportedly has mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy.

Gov. Bush, an abortion opponent, has been trying to get a guardian appointed for the fetus. State attorneys have claimed that if the mother is incompetent to make decisions for herself, she would not be able to make decisions for her child. Earlier they were worried that J.D.S., or her guardian, would be talked into having an abortion.

The courts have said that there is no precedence for a fetus having a guardian, nor is there any Florida law that allows for it.

"You're asking this court to become a super-legislature," Justice Emerson R. Thompson told one state attorney, "creating rights for a fetus that have not been specifically addressed by the State Legislature."

The judges did not indicate when they would rule on the case, though lawyers for both sides indicated that the intense publicity might force the judges to come up with a decision faster than the usual three to six months.

"What the state is doing is to treat J.D.S. as nothing more than the vessel that happens to be carrying a fetus that the state is interested in," said Randall C. Marshall, who argued on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

Groups that support abortion rights have also been accused of using J.D.S. to further their position.

Related article:
"Panel hears appeal on governor's appointment of guardian for fetus" (Associate Press via Sun-Sentinel)


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