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D.R. v. Daughters of Miriam Center for Aged

December 20, 1990

D.R., AN INCOMPETENT BY HER GUARDIAN, A.F., PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAUGHTERS OF MIRIAM CENTER FOR THE AGED, DEFENDANT



Saunders, P.J.CH.

Saunders

This written opinion supplements an oral opinion rendered from the bench on October 4, 1990.

This case presents a novel issue arising out of tragic circumstances. What criteria must a court apply when deciding whether to grant a guardian permission to obtain an abortion for his ward? As in In re Quinlan, 70 N.J. 10, 355 A.2d 647 (1976) cert. denied, 429 U.S. 922, 97 S. Ct. 319, 50 L. Ed. 2d 289 (1976) and In re Grady, 85 N.J. 235, 426 A.2d 467 (1981), the court here must also resolve the paradox of how to "preserve

the personal freedom of one incapable of exercising it by allowing others to make a profoundly personal decision on her behalf." In re Grady, 85 N.J. at 240, 426 A.2d 467.

HISTORY

In 1984, at the age of 27, D.R. suffered severe brain damage as a result of the improper administration of anesthesia during the delivery of her third child.*fn1 After brief stays at various institutions, D.R. was placed at Daughters of Miriam Center in 1986.

On September 19, 1990, Daughters of Miriam informed A.F., D.R.'s father, as well as legal guardian, that D.R. was 21 weeks pregnant by an unknown male. After conferring with D.R.'s natural mother, D.R.'s stepmother, and two physicians, A.F. decided that he wanted D.R.'s pregnancy terminated.

An Order to Show Cause filed October 1, 1990, sought leave of court to procure an abortion for D.R.*fn2

This court, sua sponte, appointed an independent guardian ad litem to represent the interests of D.R. The Attorney General and the Public Advocate were invited to appear as amicus curiae, however, the Attorney General declined to intervene. The only other interested party was Midlantic National Bank, guardian of D.F.'s property.*fn3

ARGUMENT

All the parties present except the Public Advocate argue that the standards set forth in Grady, supra, ...


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