When 30-year-old Abbie Dorn gave birth to triplets, her daughter Esti and sons Reuvi and Yossi defied the statistics of multiples and were all born healthy and strong. However, the new mother was not so lucky. After several medical errors left her deprived of oxygen during the triplets' birth, Abbie is now severely disabled. She is unable to move, and can only communicate by blinking. Since the triplets' birth, Abbie and her husband, Dan, have divorced, and are now locked in a child custody battle, with Dan arguing that Abbie's disability renders her an unfit parent.

Abbie has held her children just once during their 4 1/2 years of life, during most of which she has lived in South Carolina with her parents. The triplets live in Los Angeles with Dan, who has argued in court that they should remain there with him permanently. Dan claims that seeing Abbie in her disabled state would cause the children "grave harm", and that he, being the "only fit parent", should be given ultimate control over the children and any decisions regarding their care including whether or not they see their mother.

In the almost year-long Los Angeles Superior Court case, Dan has conceded that the United States Constitution gives parents a universal right to spend time with and parent their children, but he argues that this right is reserved for "fit parents only". He emphasized Abbie's disability, arguing that she "is incapable of communication and more likely than not, would not know or acknowledge her children if they were standing before her."

In addition, Dan's attorney has asked for a competency proceeding to determine whether Abbie is able to express her desire to see the triplets, and that if she is not found competent during that hearing, a visitation case should not take place. Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Frederick Shaller and Rudolph Diaz have both denied this request.

We will continue our discussion of Abbie Dorn and the custody rights of disabled parents in a blog post later this week.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Disabled mother battling for visitation rights gets precious time with her kids", Maria L. La Ganga, 24 January 2011