Judge Egan Walker announced this week that abortion is no longer an option being considered in the case of a pregnant Reno woman with mental disabilities. Judge Walker had been holding hearings to determine whether to force 32-year-old Elisa Bauer to abort her baby against the wishes of her adoptive parents, Bill and Amy Bauer, who say she wants to have the baby and give it up for adoption.
Melissa Clement, President of Nevada Right to Life, was in the courtroom during this morning’s hearing. Clement told LifeSiteNews (LSN) that Judge Walker made his announcement “right off the bat” as the hearing opened. He explained that the parties involved in the case had met informally behind closed doors on Friday afternoon, and that abortion had been taken “off the table.”
According to Clement, Judge Walker said that Elisa’s court-appointed attorney and guardian ad litem said they had been able to determine that she did in fact want to carry the baby. As a result, it was decided that abortion is no longer one of the courses of action being considered. The court plans to use the remaining scheduled evidentiary hearings to gather additional information to help her caretakers make the best decisions for her as she carries her pregnancy to term.
After his announcement, the judge dismissed the public, saying that he wanted to continue the hearings in a less adversarial manner. From now on, he said, meetings will be closed to the public and will focus on Elisa’s well-being and future plans for her and the baby.
“We’re very excited,” Bauer family attorney Jason Guinasso told LSN. “This is a big win for Bill and Amy Bauer, a big win for Elisa, and really, a win for the judiciary.” Guinasso complimented the court for its willingness to change direction. “They were able to take a deep breath,” he said, “consider what was being presented to them, and allow what Elisa and the Bauers have been asking for the last three weeks.”
Guinasso said that while he is pleased with the results of today’s hearing, he still believes Judge Walker overstepped his bounds in calling the hearings in the first place.
Previously, Guinasso had sued in the state Supreme Court to stop the proceedings, but the higher court denied his motion.
Guinasso said that he is working with lawyers, state lawmakers, pro-life advocates, and advocates for the disabled to draft legislation to limit the court’s ability to intervene in cases like Elisa’s.
“I’m really disturbed,” he told LSN. “One of the things that I’ve come away [with]is just the extraordinary power that judges wield in these guardianship proceedings.” He complains that Nevada’s law lacks clarity with regard to when a judge can overrule the medical decisions of a ward’s legally appointed guardians, and hopes to see legislation passed that will “raise the bar,” perhaps by limiting such interventions to life-threatening situations.
Melissa Clement was overjoyed by the judge’s announcement. “It’s a tremendous win,” she told LSN. “I was at each of the hearings and to see the change in tenor from the first hearing, when it was quite obvious that the court-appointed people were operating from the position that abortion is the only rational choice, to the next week thinking maybe it’s not what has to happen, to today, when they recognized Elisa’s ability to decide to have this baby and give it to a loving family.”
“I think a few of the people in Washoe County had their eyes opened a little bit,” Clement said, “and I think that’s a true win.
Clement credited new media resources like LifeSiteNews and Facebook for saving Elisa’s baby. “This case has been an example of social media and old media stepping in and advocating for the weakest among us,” she said. She said she had met countless reporters, cameramen and other news employees at court who were genuinely upset at what was happening to Elisa and her family and wanted to know what they could do to help. She was able to direct them to pro-life resources online, including LSN.
“New media saved Elisa,” Clement said. “It saved this little baby’s life.”