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Delaware womanís parents now in agreement: their daughter must live

By ADF Media Relations | 480-444-0020
November 19, 2008

WILMINGTON, Del. ó Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have reached a favorable settlement in a lawsuit that had pitted father against mother over the life of their 24-year-old daughter who suffers from severe brain injury. Because of religious conviction and heartfelt interaction with her ex-husbandís family, the mother of Lauren Richardson decided to join cooperatively with Richardsonís father to care for their daughter and to drop her court request to remove Richardsonís feeding tube and water.

"Everyone deserves a chance to recover. Life should be protectedónot destroyed," said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. "This change of heart and settlement has profoundly affected everyone involved. The miracle of life is not something that should be taken lightly."

In August 2006, while Richardson was pregnant, she suffered severe brain injury. Doctors later declared her to be in a persistent vegetative state. Despite medical difficulties, she survived and delivered a healthy baby girl in February 2007. She then stabilized into a healthy condition except for some mild medications and her brain injury, which limited her mobility and responsiveness and led to her being fed through a tube.

Richardsonís divorced parents went to court over her care. In January 2008, Richardsonís father, Randy Richardson, contacted ADF after the Delaware Chancery Court made a preliminary recommendation in the case, In re: Lauren Richardson, to give the mother sole guardianship to remove their daughterís feeding tube. ADF attorneys asked for a new trial and further medical evaluations to show that Lauren Richardson was responsive, that new science undermines the PVS category, and that insufficient evidence existed to demonstrate that Lauren Richardson wanted to stop her own nutrition.

Though it had been alleged that Lauren Richardson once said years earlier that she wouldnít want to be kept alive if there was "no hope," her motherís Christian faith and updates from Randy Richardsonís Web site caused her to feel convicted that her daughterís life had value and should be preserved. The Web site described Laurenís responsiveness to pain, music, family membersí voices, touch, and assisted exercise. The site also expressed regret that Lauren Richardsonís daughter might never see her own mother. A reconciliation between the parents ensued in September 2008.

The parents agreed to settle the case, to share joint guardianship of their daughter, and to cooperate in caring for her at Randy Richardsonís Maryland home. Lauren Richardson wept emotionally when her mother informed her of the settlement and the reconciliation of her parents, confirming to the mother that her daughter was aware and responsive. Both parents and their families continue to interact with her daily.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

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