Two doctors accused of performing late-term abortions in Maryland have been arrested and charged with murder after police found a freezer full of 20-35 week fetuses.
The investigation of the doctors started over a year ago when they allegedly botched an abortion on an 18-year-old girl, leaving her with a ruptured uterus.
Though licensed in other states and never licensed in Maryland, Dr. Steven Brigham, 55, and Dr. Nicola Irene Riley, 46, ran a clinic in Elkton just near the Delaware border.
Investigators with the Elkton Police Department say they asked police in New Jersey and Utah to arrest the doctors after a Cecil County grand jury handed up indictments against Brigham and Riley earlier Wednesday, capping a 16-month-long investigation.
Police say they began their investigation on in August 2010 after the duo supposedly dropped the patient off whose abortion they botched, leaving her at a nearby hospital.
Authorities say an 18-year-old woman who was 21 weeks pregnant had her uterus ruptured and her bowel injured, and rather than call 911, Brigham and Riley drove the woman to a nearby hospital, where both were uncooperative and Brigham refused to give his name.
One report says that Riley and Brigham were going to put the girl in a wheelchair and roll her to a nearby hospital when the procedure failed, but the girl's mother and boyfriend objected.
During the ensuing investigation, police found a freezer at the Elton clinic with 35 late-term fetuses inside.
Some of these fetuses are believed to have been aborted at 35 weeks, which is nearly the standard length of a full-term pregnancy.
When the New Jersey-based Brigham’s medical license was first taken away in 2010, he was called ‘a clear and imminent danger to the public health and safety’ as he ‘has consistently and repetitively engaged in manipulative and deceptive behavior . . . to eviscerate the protections afforded New Jersey patients’.
This murder charges in this case comes to light just weeks after a Philadelphia was closed and its workers arrested after performing abortions after the 24th week of pregnancy. Kermit Gosnell, 70, who owned the clinic, pleaded not guilty to murder in the deaths of seven babies and a patient who died of a painkiller overdose while waiting for an abortion.
At this clinic in west Philadelphia, likened by lawyers to a ‘house of horrors’ as babies born alive were killed by having their spinal cords severed with scissors.
According to a grand jury report released almost a year ago, Kermit’s wife Pearl Gosnell was a cosmetologist who helped her husband perform 'extremely late-term' abortions on Sundays and other days the clinic was closed. Authorities said neither was qualified to perform the procedures.
Though Maryland is one of the most-lax states when it comes to abortion law, the discovery of 20-35 week fetuses is particularly gruesome.
Brigham started the late-term abortions in New Jersey, where he wasn't permitted to perform them past 14 weeks, and finished them a day later in Maryland, where the law is more permissive, authorities said.
In addition to crossing moral boundries, the doctors in this case played hop-scotch with state lines as a way to get around the varying state abortion laws.
One example cited in court was how the duo would inject a drug in a pregnant woman’s stomach in one of Brigham’s clinics in New Jersey to render the fetus unviable- killing the fetus. Then, they would drive, with the unconscious patient in tow, to one of his clinics in Maryland where they could perform the abortion.
In Maryland, it is illegal to inject a drug that would render the fetus unviable, but in New Jersey it is illegal to perform an abortion- no matter the status of the fetus- if it has passed a certain number of weeks into the pregnancy.
Unlike New Jersey, which sets the abortion viability bar at 14 weeks into term, Maryland does not have a set number of weeks. Instead, the state simply says that a fetus is considered viable if a medical expert says it could survive on its own.
One point of comparison, though, comes from the state’s Planned Parenthood practice, which does not allow abortions in its Maryland clinics after the 19th week of the pregnancy.
As a result, Brigham faces five counts of first degree murder, five counts of second degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.
Riley has a lesser charge of one count of first degree murder, second degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Monday, January 2, 2012
Maryland's Largely Unregulated Abortion Malpractice Factory
from the Daily Mail