Woman charged with murder for stillbirth
A 37-year-old taxi cab company owner from Ocean City, MD has been charged with murder after she sought emergency care for complications of a late-term pregnancy loss.
Christy Freeman initially told doctors that she hadn't been pregnant, but later admitted that she had been. Doctors found 8-9 month placenta in her body with a jaggedly-cut umbilical cord.
Police later searched her house and made an astonishing discovery:
Inside a trunk in the living room, they found the remains of two fetuses in two plastic bags and what appeared to be a placenta in a third bag. In a vanity under the bathroom sink, they discovered a 26-week-old, 2 1/2 -pound stillborn child wrapped in a blood-smeared towel. And in the upper section of a Winnebago parked outside were the remains of a fourth tiny body.
Authorities have charged Freeman, a taxicab company owner, with first-degree murder in the death of the stillborn child found in the vanity, under a law that makes it illegal to kill a "viable fetus." [WaPo]
As if that weren't bizarre enough, the medical examiner has already certified that the fetus she is charged with "murdering" was stillborn. She's up on murder charges because of a 2005 state law that treats the killing of viable fetuses as murder. Yet, that law contains an exception for self-induced abortion:
Joel J. Todd, the state's attorney for Worcester County, said prosecutors believe they know what caused the stillborn to die "in utero." At trial, he said, prosecutors will have to prove that the cause of death was murder, because the law appears to have an exception for self-induced abortion. [WaPo]
Everyone agrees that the fetus was born dead. Yet, Freeman is being charged under the special "fetal murder" law with an exemption for self-induced abortion. By definition, anything she may have done to deliberately kill the fetus would be a self-induced abortion.
This case is going to be sensationalized for all the wrong reasons. I think they're throwing the book at this woman because of the "ick" factor. The real outrage is that a woman is being charged with murder for a stillbirth.