Human Interest

Questions remain in story of woman prevented from aborting baby with ‘fatal diagnosis’

India, c-section, Guernsey, climate change, pregnancy discrimination, disability, abortion

It was during her 23-week pregnancy appointment that Deborah Dorbert of Florida was first alerted that her preborn child might have a health condition. A week later the diagnosis came — Potter syndrome, a condition that occurs when there is little to no amniotic fluid present in the womb. Dorbert wanted to have an abortion but said she is unable to due to Florida’s law protecting preborn children from abortion after 15 weeks.

According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Potter syndrome most often is the result of the child missing both kidneys. It can also be the result of conditions in the child’s kidneys. The lack of amniotic fluid that cushions the child causes certain physical features that are non-life threatening but also causes the lungs to be underdeveloped, making it difficult to survive outside the womb. A child’s chances of survival depend on the cause of the syndrome.

According to WFLA, Dorbert’s baby does not have kidneys, which her doctors at Lakeland Regional Health said gives the baby no chance of survival.


However, the first child of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) and her husband Daniel was also diagnosed in the womb with Potter syndrome prior to her birth, and though doctors said she had zero percent chance of living, the baby girl survived and is thriving thanks to an experimental treatment and a kidney donation from her father. After the baby’s initial diagnosis, abortion advocates pushed for Beutler to abort, saying, “Abort the baby. Wait a few months. Get pregnant again. This is not a big deal.”

This is the same disregard for life that Dorbert and abortion supporters are showing her baby, though the same experimental treatment that Beutler and her baby received is available at different hospitals in the U.S. There is no guarantee that the treatment would have saved Dorbert’s baby, but it is also not known if Dorbert was informed of the experimental treatment.

There is also the question of whether or not Dorbert did qualify for an abortion.

Babies older than 15 weeks are protected from abortion in Florida, however, abortion remains legal after 15 weeks for two reasons, including if the child is deemed to not be “viable” due to a “fatal fetal abnormality” diagnosis… like Dorbert’s child was given.

Former State Sen. Kelli Stargel, who sponsored the 15-week pro-life bill, said that Dorbert is eligible for an abortion under state law. Dorbert’s doctor, along with abortionists, states that the medical field’s arbitrary definition of “viability” is different and does not depend solely on the child’s age but their health status as well.

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“In my week 23 ultrasound, in the report, it says the baby is viable,” said Dorbert. Her doctors would not sign off on an abortion and her primary care doctor argues that abortion laws in the state need to be changed to allow such a baby to be killed. Dorbert added, “Hopefully they will consider rewriting the law.”

Regardless of a preborn child’s age, abortion is not a treatment for a disability or health condition, and research shows that women who choose to abort due to their preborn child’s diagnosis have worse mental health outcomes than those who carry to term.

Dorbert said in February that she was hoping to be induced the following week, but there have been no reports of her baby’s birth.

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