1-25-12: Maryland’s Fetal Homicide Law
Two doctors practicing in Cecil County have been accused of multiple counts of murder under Maryland’s fetal homicide law.
The charges were brought against Nicola Riley and Steven Brigham after a botched abortion in 2010 at an American Women’s Services clinic in Elkton. A young woman’s abortion had been started at a clinic in New Jersey, and she had reportedly been told to drive to Maryland the next day to finish the procedure. At the Elkton clinic, her uterus ruptured. She was 21 weeks pregnant.
Investigating her complaint a few days later, Elkton police found a freezer at the clinic containing nearly three-dozen frozen late-term fetuses, ranging in age from 20 to 35 weeks.
It’s the first time prosecutors in Maryland have used the 2005 law to bring charges against physicians performing abortions. Last week, lawyers for Nicola Riley filed a motion to dismiss, saying this prosecution undermines the intent of the 2005 law. (No trial date has been set for prosecution yet – both doctors have posted bail.)
We asked Edward Rollins, the State’s Attorney for Cecil County, to speak with us about the case, but he told us that his office is in “no comment” mode now that they’re preparing for trial.
Sheilah discusses the law, and how it compares to others around the country, with Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks laws and information surrounding reproductive health, and with Douglas Johnson, federal legislation director, National Right to Life Committee.