Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Woman Charged in Death of Stillborn...

Lindsay Beyerstein, over at Majikthise, reported on a really disturbing case yesterday. A woman in Ocean City, MD is being charged with murder after investigators discovered the remains of stillborn fetuses in her home. The information so far indicates that she had four stillbirths, and police think that she might have attempted to give herself abortions. MD law has a fetal protection law so that people who cause the death of a viable fetus can be charged, but the law has an exception for women who perform abortions on themselves.

All of which is to say that charging this woman with the murder of a stillborn fetus is insane.

Here's my area of concern: This woman has four fetuses stashed around her home- one under a sink, one hidden in her car, and two in a trunk in the living room. When she was taken in to court, she apparently looked confused by the charges and the evidence, and told the judge "This is all new to me."

I'm going to play armchair psych here for a moment, so bear with me. Without going too far out on a limb, I'd have to guess that this woman probably needs some help. She's keeping the remains of her stillbirths hidden around her home, and she seems to be confused about what is happening to her. Maybe I'm wrong, but it sure as hell sounds to me like she's got some problems and probably needs to get some professional help.

It's really disgusting that, rather than looking into getting this woman some help and finding out why she's kept these stillbirths, they've decided that the appropriate course of action is to throw her in jail on first degree murder charges. She's being held without bond for having stillborn fetuses.

And it's really important to note, here, that nobody knows what caused them to be stillborn yet. In other words, she's being charged with first degree murder before they even know for sure that she killed them

So, to recap: We have a woman who probably needs professional help being charged with first degree murder for the death of a fetus that nobody knows how died because of a law that specifically would exempt this woman from being charged with murder if she did, in fact, kill the fetus.



snappy mackerel said...

I am so glad to see this post. I live in Maryland, and the news has been so wtf-inducing. In 2005, the state passed a law that equated fetal death with murder, but included a very clear exemption for mothers who acted or failed to act in a way that caused fetal death. So I have no idea why this woman is being held in prison instead of seeing a therapist.

The news has done a horrible job of explaining that these are fetuses, not born children. The carelessness they use in tossing around "dead baby" is astonishing. Thanks again for this really refreshing post.

Kate217 said...

Not only that, but I'm sure that these "babies" didn't spontaneously generate. If she's mentally incompetent, and lives alone, who is the man (or men) who has impregnated her four times?

This reeks of raping the "crazy woman" to me.

Cara said...

This is all kinds of fucked up. Thanks for sharing the story. This woman definitely needs to be in counseling and no in jail. You'd think that the difference between "murdered babies" and "stillborn fetuses" wouldn't be that hard to grasp. But I guess that when you have a society that is constantly trying to blur that line . . .

Roy said...

kate217: The impression I get is that, until now, nobody knew she had a problem. From what I've read, they still haven't declared her officially incompetent- that's why they're still pushing for the 1st Degree Murder charge. Also, I don't think she lives alone. One article I read suggested that she lives with her partner, and the father of her four living children.