Florida doctors refuse abortion for woman whose baby is expected to live less than 2 hours
Photo by Fa Barboza on Unsplash
A pregnant Florida woman has been denied an abortion, despite having been told by medical experts her baby will survive “only 20 minutes to a couple of hours,” the Washington Post reported today.

The tragic situation facing Deborah Dorbert and her husband Lee is the apparent consequence of “the uncharted landscape of Florida’s new abortion law,” the report said. The Post story described the couple’s anguish after a routine scan brought tragic news.

“The baby was no longer buoyed in ample amniotic fluid, Deborah’s doctor gently told her. The kidneys were not developing properly, failing to produce the liquid that protects the fetus and promotes the development of vital organs. She didn’t think the baby would survive without a transplant, and she urged Deborah to follow up quickly with a specialist in maternal fetal medicine.”

Further testing brought no better news. The baby was diagnosed with a deadly condition “incompatible with life” called Potter syndrome. But when the grief-stricken couple decided that terminating the pregnancy was their only choice under the circumstances, the situation worsened.

‘(The couple) say the most painful decision of their lives was not honored by the physicians they trust,” the Post reported. “Even though medical experts expect their baby to survive only 20 minutes to a couple of hours, the Dorberts say their doctors told them that because of the new legislation, they could not terminate the pregnancy.

“That’s what we wanted,” Deborah said. “The doctors already told me, no matter what, at 24 weeks or full term, the outcome for the baby is going to be the same.”

The Dorberts had run into the reality of Florida’s H.B. 5 — Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality — which went into effect last July, soon after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a half-century constitutional right to abortion, the Post reported.

Here’s how that was explained in the Post story:

“The new law bans abortion after 15 weeks with a couple of exceptions, including one that permits a later termination if “two physicians certify in writing that, in reasonable medical judgment, the fetus has a fatal fetal abnormality” and has not reached viability.

As the Washington Post noted, it’s unclear how doctors applied the new law to their situation, and multiple requests for comment for their story went unanswered.