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Girl says mom tried to force her into abortion, 8/2/2000

By Editorial Staff
Published August 2, 2000

By Antigone Barton, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Grandma Glenda Dowis in court. How will she explain this to her grandchild in 15 years or so?

LAKE CLARKE SHORES — A Fort Pierce woman pointed a gun at her pregnant 16-year-old daughter’s belly, drove her to a clinic and was arrested after saying if the girl didn’t abort the child she’d “blow her brains out,” police said.

When mother and daughter arrived at the Aware Woman Medical Center here shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday, Glenda Diane Dowis told workers to perform the procedure although “my daughter may seem a bit teary,” according to police.

Once alone with clinic workers, Brittany Dowis wrote on a medical form that her mother was forcing her to end her pregnancy. At about the same time, Glenda Dowis told a nurse in the waiting room, “If my daughter doesn’t have this abortion, I’m going to blow her brains out.” Clinic workers called police.

Police found a loaded .38-caliber Rossi Special in a briefcase on the back seat of Dowis’ car.

The 67-mile trip to the clinic followed several days of arguing about the pregnancy, police said.

“The mother had been threatening to beat her until she miscarried,” said Detective Michelle Ferrara, who interviewed the girl Tuesday. Brittany Dowis’ father and stepfather — who had adopted her — are both dead, police said.

On Tuesday, the teen told police her mother phoned her from outside the house and said, “Today’s the day.”

Later, Brittany Dowis stepped into the hallway of the family’s home and saw her mother pointing a gun at her stomach from about 3 feet away and saying she would kill her if she didn’t have an abortion.

Glenda Dowis stopped to pick up a friend who was close to Brittany and the three drove in silence to Lake Clarke Shores, where Glenda Dowis had made an appointment for her daughter, Ferrara said.

“She was petrified,” Ferrara said.

Brittany Dowis returned home to Fort Pierce with the family friend, Pamela Limberis, who supported Dowis’ desire to continue her pregnancy, police said.

Glenda Dowis, 42, of 300 Deerwood Lane, faces charges of false imprisonment and domestic abuse and was booked into the Palm Beach County jail Tuesday night without bail.

Brittany Dowis told police her mother kept the gun under the front seat of the car during the drive but she saw her mother put it in her purse when they arrived at the clinic at 1497 Forest Hill Blvd. Police said Glenda Dowis may have returned the gun to the car after she brought her daughter into the building.

“What would you do if your daughter was pregnant and wouldn’t have an abortion?” Ferrara said Dowis asked her.

“You’re asking the wrong person,” Ferrara said she told Dowis. “I was pregnant when I was 15.” Her daughter is 15 now, she said.

Last year, the state legislature passed a law contemplating a different scenario: when a teenager wants an abortion that the parents may not support. The law, which required doctors to notify parents before performing the procedure, was struck down in May by a judge who ruled it violated the child’s right to privacy.

“We should be looking at ways to keep families from reaching such a tragic place,” said Lillian Tamayo, CEO for Planned Parenthood of Palm Beach and the Treasure Coast. Ultimately, Tamayo said Tuesday, “It is in the purview of the young woman to make the choice for herself.”

The disturbance was unusual for the clinic, Lake Clarke Shores Police Chief Wes Smith said.

“We’ve had to arrest people in the past for picketing and blocking the entrance but it’s been quiet lately,” Smith said.

Robbi Altschuler, a nurse practitioner at the clinic, said, “We have a few women who pray the rosary out front, every once in a while.”

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