J.D.S. Gives Birth To Baby Girl; Gov. Bush Continues Push For
Appointing Guardians To Fetuses
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 3, 2003
ORLANDO, FLORIDA--A woman who became the center of the abortion debate in Florida has given birth to a baby girl.
The woman, identified as J.D.S., gave birth to the baby, now known as "Baby Girl S.", during a scheduled Caesarian section Saturday morning. The baby weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces and was 21 1/2 inches long when born. She appeared healthy, "with lots of curly hair", according to J.D.S.' guardian Patti Riley Jarrell.
The guardian was appointed for J.D.S. earlier this summer after it was discovered that she was pregnant from a rape that allegedly occurred while she lived in an Orlando group home. J.D.S. is 23 years old and reportedly has epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and mental retardation, was considered by those around her to be unaware of her pregnancy, and could not name the man that allegedly sexually assaulted her.
Circuit Judge Jose Rodriguez granted emergency custody of Baby Girl S. to the Department of Children & Families during a Saturday hearing. Rodriguez also ordered a DNA sample to be taken from the newborn to help Orlando police determine who raped J.D.S..
J.D.S.' situation prompted Governor Jeb Bush to appoint a committee this spring to investigate problems with the state's guardianship system, particularly for people with developmental disabilities. The case gained national attention when the governor tried to have a guardian appointed for the unborn fetus. His request was denied by a Florida court, which noted that there is no legal precedent in the state for appointing a guardian to a fetus.
Bush's office said they still plan to appeal the case, to "protect the interests of unborn children in extremely rare cases" such as when the mother has certain disabilities.
Jarrell requested J.D.S. be granted some supervised contact with the baby while they are in the hospital. Jarrell also asked that she and a caregiver be allowed to see the baby and that pictures be taken. Judge Rodriguez agreed but said the child's health and safety must be priorities.
According to news reports, J.D.S. was sleeping and recovering well from the surgery Saturday afternoon.
"Birth snarls legal debate" (St. Petersburg Times)
"Conflicts arise over rights of pregnant retarded woman and fetus" (CNN.com)
[Note: This article appeared Friday, the day before Baby Girl S. was born]