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July 8th, 2010
04:27 PM ET

Visiting brain-damaged mom, a collision of instincts

I am not sure which instinct took over first. When I heard the story of Abbie Dorn, I remember listening with my "head" as a neurosurgeon, and also listening with my "heart" - as a dad. Like you probably will, I thought of Abbie's three children. I have three of my own.

Abbie was young, recently married, and wanting to start a family. It did not happen easily. She underwent IVF, and was finally told she was pregnant. Triplets. It was the most exciting day of her life.  Abbie's mother told me all of this, because Abbie cannot. You see, something went terribly wrong during the delivery. There was bleeding, more than two liters. Abbie's heart failed, and for too long her brain went without oxygenated blood.

Abbie survived, but she was left in a state where she can barely move, cannot speak and only blinks her eyes.  As you will see as I examine Abbie,  it is this blinking that is now at the heart of a bitter legal controversy.

Abbie's parents, her therapist and her lawyer believe she is communicating through those blinks. They believe she is letting them know: "I want to see my children." Her husband, who has since divorced her, thinks otherwise. He thinks that there is no way she could be communicating, and that it would be damaging for the children to see their mother in this condition. He worries the triplets, who are now 4 years old, might one day blame themselves for what happened to her, at the time of their birth.

There are gray areas of medicine, and that is especially true  when it comes to the brain. Doctors don't agree on Abbie's condition. And, now to try and settle this, medicine and the legal system will collide.

Of course, when sitting back and thinking about this whole situation, my dad instinct took over once again. I wondered if the focus regarding Abbie was misplaced. Regardless of her condition or her ability to communicate or interact, do her children have a right to see their mother? And, does Abbie have a right to be with her children? There are no easy answers, but I am eager to hear what you have to say.

Program Note: See Dr. Sanjay Gupta's full report on Abbie Dorn tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET.


soundoff (682 Responses)
  1. bestinterest

    I hope that the father finds it in his heart to see the grandparents as parents too that whether rightly or wrongly are doing what they feel is right for their daughter and allow the grandparents to bring the part of mother to the children that he cannot and will not...whether that be stories of their mother as a kid or similarities in the grandparents' personalities that might be similar to the mother. Divorcing the mother when she is disabled and cannot fight for herself is not only heartless but teaches the children that the disabled and the sick in our society are to be discarded and deserves no loyalty. Whether a machine is keeping the mother alive or not still allows the children the opportunity to hug her or touch her something that will be gone forever once she is 6 feet under. The father can try all he wants but he will never be able to change the fact that mother is part of the children and has done nothing wrong to justify his terminating her parental rights...even if she cannot fight for them!!! The father on the other hand may not only have avoided his responsibility to the mother but failed to protect the children by not being able to deal with his guilt in encouraging her to have IVF. divorcing her, and alienating the children from their mother.

    July 9, 2010 at 03:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. bestinterest

    sorry...duplicate post was unintentional...computer problem

    July 9, 2010 at 03:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Tchilek

    A mother's basic right is to see her children. And children have a way of accepting facts. I do not how a father who does this could even be considered to have a point. This is cruel.

    July 9, 2010 at 03:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Bgriffith

    May be seeing her children will give her the strength to wake up from this state. Her parents should take the husband to court until he allows the children to see their mother. This is inhumane. The husband took the easy way out and now justifying his action in the name of the kids. I don't even know if he deserves to be their father, or anyone's father.

    July 9, 2010 at 03:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Angela

    So as adults the kids couldn't possibly blame themselves for their mother's condition when they find out? Or that they wouldn't feel cheated as adults when they learned they were barred from seeing their own mother based on her condition? No, this would absolutely not happen once they become adults because life's lessons and their maturity will shield them and have toughened thier adult hearts and minds. As all children prove, they are resilient and the most accepting of how things are; loving unconditionally. How can that be forgotten. I wonder how the father will mold his children given what he is doing now? Let them accept their mom as she is because I am confident, had any of her children been born "less than normal," she would still have loved them, raised them, bragged about them.

    July 9, 2010 at 04:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Cheryl

    First of all her ex-husband is a jerk for leaving her and it's too bad she married such a jerk and didn't know it unitl it was too late. Secondly her children have a right to see their mother and work out thier feelings before it's too late.

    July 9, 2010 at 04:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jessica

      Her husband is a jerk, Cheryl. I understand their relationship is over, but he is cruel beyond measure to separate his children from their mother. One look at poor Abbie, it's clear she's suffering without them. And keeping the kids away is certainly not going to prevent "issues" they might have over their poor family's plight. Sooner or later they're going to grow up and figure it out, and he's going to have to answer for himself. Here's hoping the courts do the right thing by Abbie and her children before then.

      July 9, 2010 at 08:14 | Report abuse |
  7. Gillian

    I read a couple of posts that said "state the facts" as though that really makes a difference.
    The woman is alive!
    She gave birth to 3 healthy babies and was disabled due to complications of delivery.
    Evidently her husband decided he could not deal with this situation and divorced her and since then has denied his children the opportunity to visit and get to know their mother.
    My personal opinion is that they should be allowed to visit their mother, be educated, age appropriatly, to her condition, and get to know her through her obviously loving parents.
    The most valuable thing these children will learn as they grow, is that love is unconditional. That even when terrible things happen, your family will love and support you and not abandon you because you are "less than perfect".
    The same cannot be said of the father in this case.
    What is his lesson to his children?
    If something happens and you can't handle it, run away and make like it didn't happen. God forbid something happen to one of these kids, would he be as loving as Abbies parents and take care of a damaged child? Or run away from the situation like he did with their mother? While I understand his need to move on, he evidently feels the need to move on and erase the past. He is an adult, he can choose to be cowardly and hide behind legalities and medical debate to justify his abandonment of his wife and desire to keep her and her "condition" from their children. He should however consider the choice to be a hero.
    The power of a loving atmosphere can be very theraputic, I think all involved would benefit.

    The children will know their mother as she is, and how she was, and that no matter what happens to you you will never be abandoned by those who truly love you.
    Abbies parents can be at peace knowing that they have done absolutely everything they can to help their daughter.
    As for Abbie she can be seen for what she is, a mother. She has already sacrificed herself to give life to 3 children, if there is even the remotest possibility that she is aware of what is going on, she should be able to visit with her children.
    If the father would agree to this I think he would benefit too. Later in life his children would look at him as loving and compassionate a real role model to his children.

    To deny visits is like trying to say the situation does not exist. When these children grow up I think far more harm will be caused by the grief of never knowing their mother, and the possiblity that their presence may have been of benefit to her.
    Their father has an opportunity to display the kind of love and compassion that will shape their characters. Instead he chooses to teach them that love is conditional on your good health.

    July 9, 2010 at 04:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. ldgolden1911

    I, too, like red and I'm sure countless others is wondering why this is even being considered as something that's up for question. Why shouldn't this woman be allowed to see her children? She paid the ultimate sacrifice for the children, and it's because of that sacrifice that the children are even here in the first place. Now, to speak from the perspective of Abbie Dorn, it 's obstacle enough to have your spouse leave you in a time like that; why should she be put through the anguish of being taken away from her kids? She already went through extenuating circumstances (in-vitro fertilization) to birth them, so what's the likelihood of her not wanting to persevere through more extenuating circumstances and see them? The situation is already difficult enough, and it doesn't need to be complicated any further through legalities.

    July 9, 2010 at 05:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Mitchell

    Birth is a dangerous time for both mother and child. Modern medicine has done wonders to cut the risk, however it still exists. As the husband has now divorced he should no longer have a say in this poor woman's fate, he's given up that right. Who's to say that when the children are of an age to make a rational decision, they might even blame the father for depriving them of any bond with their mother. It is a tough one.

    July 9, 2010 at 05:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Wing

    You get to choose almost everything in life, but as for your Mother, is given to you by God.
    Here is to the father if you're reading this, please let your children visit the mother or when they grown up they might deny you for what you did to their mother.

    July 9, 2010 at 05:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. sowmya

    This dad seems to be completely heartless. She basically sacrificed her well being to bear children. She has every right to see her children and for her children to see her.

    July 9, 2010 at 05:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Dlev31

    She definitely should at least be able to hear her children. The father is only thinking of himself. The children must wonder about their mother, they're old enough to know everyone has one. Unless, he's been telling them they have a different mother?

    July 9, 2010 at 05:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Pam

    As I listened to this story this morning,tears came to my eyes,from that woman. I was pretty much like here almost a year agi,not from childbirth,but from a horrific car accident that almost claimed my life. My family was first told,if she makes it thru the night...and I did,she probably wont be able to talk....and I am,she wont walk.....I am.The point Im trying to make is first,the husband should have helped,instead of divorcing her. My kids(most military)came from all over the world to bring pictures and different things to the hosp, day in and day out,trying to make sure I would remember. Even my husband thought I would not remember him,but I did remember in time,all 11 of my kids and my husband. And why? Because they dudnt give up on me. My heart aches for this woman and her children. My prayer is that she makes some sort of recovery,that she is able to see her kids,that things get better for her. This is my prayer .

    July 9, 2010 at 06:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. gio

    Her ex-husband is a SELFISH DICK for not letting her see the triplets. She ended up in that condition because she have birth to them. So the least that her ex-husband can do is let her see her children

    July 9, 2010 at 06:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. christine

    I think that is it an outrage that this woman has been kept alive. Let her see the children and know they are healthy and happy. Then take her off of tube feeding and all the other unnatural crap they are doing to keep her alive. May she rest in peace.

    July 9, 2010 at 06:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. cindy

    The children should be able to see their mother. They will find out eventually that this happened during childbirth, so why the delay? If they blame themselves, then that can be dealt with by therapy. It is ridiculous to not let them see their mother and I believe they will be angry later on for not being able to.

    July 9, 2010 at 06:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Nicci

    It's nice to see that this father really took his vows seriously. Whatever happened to " for better or for worse"? The children are only 4 years old. They do not have to be told what happened to their mother right now. When they get older and can understand a little about how the body works then they can be told. In the mean time, let the children see the woman who gave them life while giving up hers.

    July 9, 2010 at 06:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. LawyerMom

    As a mother, attorney (served as a law guardian in Family Court for children for many years), and now a high school teacher (US History), I have to conclude that this father is very immature. He is teaching them that, if anything ever happens to them, they will no longer be loved, cared for, or worthy of recognition. Life isn't always a Hallmark commercial – but that doesn't make it any less beautiful or palatable. The reality of biology is totally comprehensible to kids. In fact, these children have the opportunity to grow in compassion and health understanding well beyong most children. The most detrimental approach is to try to keep the children from her so that they grow up believing she is not worthy of being loved or cared for. That would, indeed, be the truly damaging approach. What postivie role modeling these grandparents have provided by showing how we love and care for our children and loved ones no matter what they go through. This all being said, it is unlikely that children will want to spend large amounts of time with an invalid – and so their visitation probably should be regular but not exremely lengthy. (I'm sure the grandparents make it fun.)

    July 9, 2010 at 06:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. cora

    I also agree that the children shoud see their mother and they would appreciate it at a later date.. When they grow up they will feel angry for not seeing her and would put the blame on someone else. After all , she is still their mother, no matter what. Kids are resilient. And for the mother , if still have a bit of cognition, having the kids around would be a comfort to her.

    July 9, 2010 at 06:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. lkl417

    I think the father is the one who feels guilty about her condition...but his guilt is misplaced and probably he hasn't come to terms with it. The kids are going to wonder where their mom is, if they don't already. What is he going to do, tell them a lie their whole lives? They deserve to know, and deserve a chance to deal with it in their own ways. And she deserves to be known, rather than hidden away.

    July 9, 2010 at 06:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Joe

    I agree that this man's actions are heartless and thoughtless. If his former wife has any cognition whatsoever, what a joy it would be to her to see the babies for whom she'd given up her life. And his own embarrassment at her condition would not be true of young and innocent children, they would see beyond her physical condition. It reminds me of how my little children don't even understand what it is to be "old," they see my elderly parents as beautiful people. Not to change the subject, but where is the outcry when an ex-wife of a good (and even healthy) father deprives them of contact with his own children for no reason at all other than spite, or some fabricated reason? Would we be having the same debate? Just a thought.

    July 9, 2010 at 06:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kaye

      I whole heartedly agree with both Joe and Cricket! I almost died giving birth to my child and was in a coma for some time. I feel blessed and privileged to have my family and spouse with me during that time period. Now my male child is being kept from HIS child and penalized because HE is fighting for HIS country! Apparently, "the child does not know him........". The reason is upcomprehensible and childish on the mothers part and Abbey's husband will regret not allowing his children to see their mother. It seems we all are saying the same thing. Prepare the children to see their mother, explain her condition to them in terms they can comprehend. I strongly suggest a counselor be there for them. Answer their questions as best as you can. That is the responsiblity of any parent; prepare your child for life experiences.
      Children are very forgiving individuals. Its US the adults who are narrow minded and only think of our own feelings. We the adults are the ones who hold grudges and not want to face our fears. I wonder if Abbeys husband feels guilty? I pray my SON will one day be able to see and spend time bonding with HIS child that he loves. I pray that my grandchilds mother will get over her unfounded fears and anger. I pray the war will be over soon so that our men & women can come home to their families.

      I pray for Peace

      July 9, 2010 at 07:34 | Report abuse |
  22. Becky

    The father's stated concern that the children will 'blame themselves for their mother's condition' if they see her at this time seems invalid to me since they are not old enough to intellectualize her condition or conceptualized the idea of birth. At a later time, yes, they will be able to understand, but not now. As a loving father I cannot imagine he has deliberately ambushed this idea with them already.

    Seeing their mother now will soften the blow of the timing of her events surrounding her affliction later. Denying the mother is irresponsible and inappropriate, but it is even worse that the father is denying these children their right to know their mother on whatever level can be had.

    You can be very sure that this father's decision to wait under the guise of protecting the children will become a great regret for him later when finally they do either meet her or find out what happened. Children, even when they become adults, are not as forgiving for these kind of childhood assaults (and this is an assault on them as well as their mother), insults and prohibitions.

    July 9, 2010 at 06:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Linda

    Children should see their mother. They need to know their mother's love and all she went through to have them and all she sacrificed for them, that is true mother's love. As they grow and learn they will know it was not their fault, and nothing could have been done. Has their father consider how much they will blame him once they find out that he has kept them from them? I believe that will damage them more.

    July 9, 2010 at 06:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. linda

    It would be a cruel injustice if these children were prevented from knowing their mother, they are young enough to accept her for who she is now rather than the fantasy figure that they will grow up hearing stories about. I don't have much sympathy for the father. he choose to distance himself from his wife but he has no right to deny his children a relationship however limited with their mum.i feel sorry for this poor woman, not only has she lost the life that she should have had she also may never know if her babies are happy and healthy. it would be totally inhumane and degrading for all involved if this mother and her children are denied the right to know each other.

    July 9, 2010 at 06:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jen

      These children are never going to know their mother, whether they are taken to see her or not.

      July 9, 2010 at 07:16 | Report abuse |
  25. denise

    A number of posters make comments such as 'i would be heartbroken if i couldn't see my child.' This poor woman can't be heartbroken or sad, she has no capacity. I feel bad that the parents are being misled into (obviously) spending enormous amounts of money on various types of therapy. This poor woman will never emerge from this and never have any awareness of her surroundings and that includes her children, should they visit. So, in my opinion, it is not about the woman's rights to see her children. The question really is, as Gupta said, what about the rights of her children? The sad fact is, eventually this woman will be allowed to die. The children should see her. I think it would be cruel to make them visit on a regular basis, but they should see her. They should see their mom, touch her hand, speak to her and the grandparents should have the opportunity to tell them about their mom – about when their mom was well. The visiting should never be forced and if the children refuse, their wishes should be acknowledged. It isn't about the mom because sadly, the mom has no awareness.

    July 9, 2010 at 07:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Veronika

    It seems it is the father who has issues w/ this whole situation and cannot get passed it. These children would bond and adore their mother at level nobody could. Sooner or later they would have to face the truth and deal with it, they can learn more about what happend as they mature and are ready. This seems very cruel toward the children and the mother.

    July 9, 2010 at 07:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • denise

      How do you get passed this? I feel bad about the whole situation. I cannot imagine the misery that any of the people involved , including the dad, have gone through. I don't ever want to know and I am not sure I feel right judging how people respond in such situations. If I were ever in this situation, I am not sure what I would want for my kids. I would not want them thinking that a miracle was going to happen, and I would get better, because this isn't going to happen. I would want them to know that I will always be like this. But I would like them to know about me, and the kind of person I was, and how much I loved them and wanted them.

      July 9, 2010 at 07:22 | Report abuse |
  27. Veronika

    there is another aspect to the story as well. We live in a society glorifying IVF and women getting to choose how many eggs to be inserted at any given time (here in the US) without acknowledging dangerous concequences. We see all these beautiful stories and reality shows of healthy sextuplets etc. but never shown the grim side of how dangerous this game really is.

    July 9, 2010 at 07:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Question #1

    "Should disabled mom be kept from kids?" WHY is this even a question? On what grounds can visitation cease? I want to know what laws are being violated. Stop discriminating and allow this woman her full rights.

    July 9, 2010 at 07:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Tammy

    Honestly, I understand why the father divorced the mother and sued her estate for alimony and or child support. What I don't understand is him keeping knowledge of her away from the kids. Is he keeping the kids away from the maternal grandparents as well? Does he plan to inform the children later in life of what happened to her, and if she is still living will they have the opportunity to meet her BEFORE they turn 18? Sorry my speakers are busted, so I can't hear the video. Does he plan on making this another Terry Shiavo case where he expects to have say so over what to do with her although he wants nothing to do with her?

    July 9, 2010 at 07:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. ALTarrant

    I have a question...where do these children think their mother is, or who do they think she is?

    July 9, 2010 at 07:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. nardhelain

    I think the father is a monster for behaving the way he is. This woman sacrificed her life in a very real way to give him his beautiful children, and he thanks her by divorcing her, clearing out her estate, and denying her children the chance to know their mother in whatever way they can? What a terribly, terribly evil thing to do.

    July 9, 2010 at 07:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Heather

    I can't even believe this is a debate. There should be no reason, whether she can blink or can't blink, to not let the kids see their mother if she is alive. I agree with those that say the "father" just wants to be done with the whole "issue" and move on. She is just a reminder of the past. The problem is, as others have mentioned, the kids will resent him for making that decision. Plus, it will be easier if they see her now versus at an older age. This women lost most of her life for her kids and now she can't even be given the chance to see them or them see her. This is just incredible to me. I don't even think the heart of the debate is whether she has any thinking/reasoning or not at this point. The parents could very well be in denial, but I wouldn't want to take that chance. There seems to be some cognetive function and I wouldn't be able to live with myself knowing that she could be thinking about her kids every day but is unable to say anything due to her injuries.

    July 9, 2010 at 07:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Lisa

    Clearly this story is about a man who doesn't want the "baggage" of a disabled wife. He wants to move on with his life; keeping the three kids from their mother – imperfect or not – is proof of that. Further, what kind of man divorces his wife because she is suddenly handicapped – from giving birth no less! – and leaves her in a nursing home to live out a sad, lonely existence without the love and company of her children. Dan Dorn isn't looking out for his kids' best interest. He only cares about himself. Fortunately, he will stand before God in judgement one day.

    July 9, 2010 at 07:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. fireybuddha

    She gave her life up to bear those children, and that's how she's repaid? Somehow, I don't think the father has no one's best interest in mind but his own.

    July 9, 2010 at 07:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. seabeejon

    I think this is a matter of being humane. The father wanted all of the benefits of being married to a beautiful woman and having her children but when fate delt her a blow, he acted like an animal and cut and run. This might be acceptable in the animal world where survivability is of outmost importance. In the human world, he's just cold, weak and coward who has no feelings, not even for his own children who may grow to love their mom, just as she is.

    July 9, 2010 at 07:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Holli

    Being sick does not take away your right to be a mother, or children's right to see you. I think the father does not want the responsibility involved in maintaining this relationship because it involves more than ordinary effort. But what he doesn't realize is that, it will make his children grow up to be thoughtful, compassionate and appreciative adults, something of far more value in this world current style of relationships. Eventually the sacrifice their mother went through to have them would mean a lot to them and they especially can be thankful for their life in general, since without those efforts they would not even be there. What a lack of thankfulness he is teaching them by keeping them away, as if she doesn't exist. He would not have them if it wasn't for her! His reasoning is not all for the benefit of his children and he is fully aware of this I am sure, it is to benefit himself and his own inability to show compassion and proper gratitude. You don't disregard the value of someone's life, no matter what their condition is. But he is doing exactly that. My heart goes out to these children, one day when they are aware, they will not be thankful to him for his actions. I would want to see and know my mother, regardless of her health condition, even if she was in a vegetable state, I would want her to feel my love, even small children can understand that concept when explained simply. He is using the children as his excuse for not wanting to see her!

    July 9, 2010 at 08:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Diana

    What a selfish Ex-Husband if it wasn't for her he would not have those children. She wanted them so badly and she has every right to see them as they have every right to see her. Medical History proves Doctor's do not know enough about the Brain to judge if she is aware of her surroundings or not.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Mitzi Domingue

    She gave up her life for her children they should be allowed to visit her. Those children would know the truth sooner or later and the father is afraid that the children would come to love their mother more than him. I think he is selfish.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Mitzi Domingue

    She gave birth to those children so they should be allowed to visit her. Those children would know the truth sooner or later and the father is afraid that the children would come to love their mother more than him. I think he is selfish.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Nadeem

    I think we have to just reverse the situation. If god forbid one of the children was born with brain injury and crippled would we then also have kept the child away from the rest of the family so no one had to see or remember what the child was like, especially the siblings? Or would the mother have devoted intense time and energy trying to keep that child happy and comfortable and well taken care of for whatever period he lived in this world?
    Our problems is two fold. We have become doctors and lawyers first and conveniently forgotten that for both professions the pre-requisite is to be human first otherwise we start promoting and defending animal instincts (and animals have no lawyers or physicians for that matter, just vultures and lions in that order). Secondly our concept of family has eroded to almost non-existance. What if the father had been running to the hospital from work to see the babies being born and ended up in a car accident and brain trauma causing him to be in a vegetative state, and the mother now divorced the father of the kids and never let the kids see the father or know who he was? The bottom line, we take calculated risk when we get married, when we decide to have a family, and when a mother decides to get pregnant she takes a calculated risk of getting harmed herself in the process. And how are we acknowledging Abbie's love for having a family and children and the risks she took for that cause? By not only not letting her see her kids but depriving the kids to ever get to know their mother or kiss her or hug her or say "thank you mom for bringing us into the world at the cost of your own life", and they are going to some day find out about her, and will hate the father for not letting them see their own flesh and blood mother (and rightfully so), but by then Abbie will probably have died from complications of her condition. But then, back to our social decadence and dying concept of family. A mother is replaceable. If nothing, you can always order a replacement mother on match.com

    July 9, 2010 at 08:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Margroks

    I doubt seriously that this poor woman is really communicating by blinking her eyes; the grandparents and everyone else are probably deluding themselves into believing what is random uncontrolled movement is actually intentional.

    But that is not really the point. The children have alright to know who their mom is and that could be acomplished without trauma to their young minds with the proper preparation. While I don't know the details it does seem the father is self centered adn reneged on his marriage vows to abandon his wife like this. It is especially disturbing that he sued to get money from his ex-wife. THis guy lacks common caring and moral decency.

    Both sides in this argument should stop making arguments not based in reality and simply bring the kids in for a brief supervised visit after the kids are prepared for what they will see.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Reesa

    What an outrage! Why would anyone do something like this? That 'ex-husband' should know that those kids will grow up to resent him one day. I'm a mother and if I couldn't see my daughter, my heart would slowly stop beating. She carried those 3 kids for months, they were a part of her. How could someone be so cruel and not allow her to be a part of their lives? I agree with someone that mentioned perhaps the happiness and joy of seeing her kids would allow her to heal parts of herself or to just pass this life happily, knowing that her kids are well.
    I can't believe people do this in America and can get away with it. How sad and disgusting. Even if he wanted nothing to do with her, those kids are a part of her as well. I hope justice prevails and the kids are allowed to see their mother.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. bsm

    Shame on the father....he should be punished for keeping those children away from her from day one. She is the MOTHER and she gave her life for those children. Regardless of her condition, she has a legal right to see her children. What a joke that he is doing this for the children's sake. If he cared at all about his children, he would have them know their mother. I grew up without a mother and I know how damaging that is for a child....way more damaging than knowing your mother has a medical condition. These children are eventually going to see what a monster their father really is and they will end up hating him for what he has done. He will eventually get what's coming to him wether it's here on earth or when he meets his maker....wish I could be there to watch!

    July 9, 2010 at 08:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Momtoasweetie

    I haven't read through all the responses but I have to say a living directive here would have helped everyone. My attorney wrote one for me and my child's godfather knows I do not want to be kept alive like that.

    as for the children, that's a hard one. I had 3 disabled people in my family growing up and it was a very scarring thing in my life.

    I feel that children need to be protected, they hold information in their minds for a lot longer than we think. As evidenced by 2 stories on here already.

    I can't say whether or not she should see her children. But people that are saying the kids will bounce back with no problem are wrong.

    And to cleverlee, the jewish community do not believe in Jesus as savior so your response makes no sense.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Ballz

    One possible answer to the questions of why he divorced her is because of cost. It doesnt mean he doesnt love her any less, but it protects him against unglodly hospital bills that nobody could ever hope to be able to pay. Im sure the decision didnt come easily. I understand that some folks stick to "til death do us part", but if you were in that situation, you may think out of the box a bit. Think about the father not having a dime to spend on his kids because of the hospital bills that will never stop being racked up. Some knee-jerk responses should be better thought out.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • May

      It is my understanding that a couple can divide their estate no matter how large or how small, then when the injured spouses assets are used up, the state takes over and provides ant the healthy spouse is not liable for any further medical bills.

      July 9, 2010 at 08:38 | Report abuse |
  46. kisho

    This father is not competent enough to make his children strong to face the reality of life!!! We should not let him keep the children!!! Somebody should investigate the real motive of the father behind his cowardliness. It is really insane that we are even talking about whether a challenged mother should be allowed to see her children…These children can motivate her and give her the mind power to come of this state..

    July 9, 2010 at 08:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. May

    No Dr. Gupta, this is NOT a collision of instincts. Instinct tells us, the children have the right and need to see their mother just as the mother has the right and need to see her children. Period. Don't make it any more complicated than that, for that is the truth of the matter. The ex-husband's opinions don't count. At first he mourned the loss of his partner, then he abandoned her in search of another. His opinion should bear no merit. This is strictly betweent he children and their mother. His issue is his own guilt, and the fact that he does not want his children to realize the truth of what he's done, which was to abandon his wife.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Brian

    What about her exhusband....Whatever happend to the marriage vows "TILL DEATH DO US PART"? He is showing those children it's ok to give up on someone you love.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Blueman

    There has got to be a way to test that eye-communication. I know of someone with ALS who communicated beautifully by using his eye movement to "type" into a special computer. If the father can prove she is non-communicative then I suppose he can continue being the ahole he is. I can't imagine divorcing someone who has become so disabled while they were having my children. How could I not take care of her? Sorry she is such a burden in his life, but what if it was his triplets who were born severely disabled? Would he abandon them? It just seems inhumane of him. Did you ever visit a really old grandma when you were little? I hated it as a kid. But as an adult, I'm so glad I was able to know that grandma. The kids will feel cheated later in life if they did not have a chance to be with their mother. I lost my mother while in my 30s. She was ill my wholelife- but my dad never abandoned her. I would love to have her in my life again. The idea of this mother being alive but the kids not able to see her and be with her is very upsetting to me. Disabled or not, there is an amazing bond between a mom and her kids.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. JM

    From reading the story, I think the father is more than selfish. He is looking for his own interests by sacrificing the life of her wife and children. Hopefully I'm wrong.
    Wish the best for Abbie, her children and her parents.

    July 9, 2010 at 08:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JDB

      Hear hear! The "dad" in this situation seems to want a perfect world for his daughters. There is no such thing. Life isn't a cake walk. He's causing them far more damage than seeing their mother would.

      July 9, 2010 at 08:52 | Report abuse |
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.