How must parents feel when they witness the death of their own child? Deborah and Lee Dorbert from Florida, USA, will soon be able to answer this question. In a few weeks, the two will have their second child. And they will only have to say goodbye to him shortly after delivery. The unborn child is sick, it will die shortly after birth. And yet Dorbert has to carry it out. It’s just one example of the fate that has threatened many people since states in the United States have been able to restrict or ban abortion.

Since the mostly conservative Supreme Court in the USA overturned a general right to abortion, the states have been able to decide on abortion rights themselves. This has led to major restrictions for pregnant women, particularly in the Republican-governed states. Like in Florida, for example.

Among other things, the “Washington Post” reports on the case of the Dorberts, which is symptomatic of the change in law in the USA: The couple was pregnant with their second child when doctors diagnosed the so-called “Potter syndrome”. The disease describes a congenital absence or severe underdevelopment of both kidneys and lungs and is caused by the unborn child being surrounded by too little amniotic fluid in the womb.

“Potter Syndrome” is considered a doubly fatal diagnosis for the child. On the one hand, because missing or underdeveloped kidneys cannot filter toxins out of the body. On the other hand, because the lungs cannot develop normally and the child is born without the ability to breathe.

When a medical professional told the Dorberts of the diagnosis last November, he explained that while some parents would still go through with the pregnancy, others would prefer to have an abortion in such a situation.

The couple wanted to terminate the pregnancy as soon as possible, as children suffering from “Potter Syndrome” often die before birth or suffocate within minutes or hours after delivery.

As Deborah Dorbert told the “Washington Post”, a doctor explained to her that an abortion is possible in principle, but only between the 28th and 32nd week of pregnancy. But since July 2022, abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy have been generally prohibited in Florida. Exceptions are rare, and only when two physicians independently certify in writing that the fetus has a fatal fetal abnormality and is not yet viable—as with the Dorberts.

Weeks passed, but they didn’t get any feedback. The desperate mother kept calling the Office of Maternal Fetal Medicine, hoping to get permission for the abortion by Christmas.

When a specialist finally got in touch, Dorbert couldn’t believe her ears. It was decided that she would have to wait until the 37th week of pregnancy, and thus de facto until the end of the pregnancy, before she could terminate the pregnancy.

At the request of the Washington Post, the operating company of the clinic in which the Dorberts were patients said they were complying with current Florida state law.

Due to the strict laws that the Republicans introduced in Florida, abortions are highly punishable. Doctors who “frivolously” approve an abortion can even face years of imprisonment. And Governor Ron DeSantis would like to tighten the law even further. Earlier this month he said that if passed, he would immediately sign legislation banning abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy. “We are for life,” declares DeSantis full-bodied

Doctors advised the Dorberts to go to another state that has less restrictive abortion laws. But the family doesn’t have enough money for that. The costs are too high, anyway, the two of them only rarely left the state in their lives.

Now they have to wait. Waiting for the birth of a doomed child who will be in this world for only a few hours, if any, before suffocating. “We just don’t understand it. Actually, there should be exceptions when it comes to abortions. Apparently, in some cases it’s not enough for such an exception,” says Deborah Dorbert. “It makes me angry that politicians decide what is best for my health.”

The two would do anything to bring the child into the world and welcome it, even if it will also be a goodbye. The child will then receive palliative care. At least this decision did not want to be taken away from the parents. “It was very important for us that we at least have that control with a decision like this,” said Lee Dorbert. If the child should die, the family wants to remember it. Perhaps through a glass figure filled with his ashes. “Something permanent”, just not an urn.

Quellen: Washington Post, The Guardian