The cause célèbre over the weekend has to be the rather bizarre case unfolding in Ocean City involving a Ms. Christy Lynn Freeman and at least four dead babies.
While there is no doubt that the headlines are good for circulation numbers, and for the political career of the State’s Attorney, color me unimpressed.
More below the fold.
By way of background, Ms. Freeman reported to a hospital complaining of cramps and bleeding. When examined the doctors quickly discovered the reason, according to Reuters:
Doctors at the hospital determined that Freeman had been pregnant but was no longer, prompting police to search her apartment.
At the apartment, police also found a garbage bag hidden in a trunk in Freeman’s bedroom. Inside were three smaller plastic bags, two of which contained the remains of two more infants, and a third contained what police said was a placenta.
The next day, the remains of a fourth infant were found in another garbage bag inside a Winnebago motor home parked in Freeman’s driveway, according to a police statement.
She was booked on charges of first- and second-degree murder.
The medical examiner has already determined that the most recent infant was stillborn and the investigation into the status of the other three is proceeding.
Despite this the State’s Attorney of Worcester County, Democrat Joel Todd is driving on:
The legislature passed the law after it was amended to include language that abortion-rights advocates said would protect a woman’s right to a medical abortion. Some say it is unclear whether the law protects women from prosecution for self-induced abortions.
Another question involves the viability of Freeman’s baby, which a preliminary report by the state medical examiner determined was stillborn. Maryland’s statute does not cover fetuses that cannot survive outside the womb.
Still, Worcester County State’s Attorney Joel J. Todd said yesterday that he’s proceeding with the case on the basis of the 2005 law. “It is under that theory that she has been charged,” he said.
This is simply grandstanding. The law Maryland passed to allegedly protect babies in utero was specifically constructed to exclude tha actions of the mother. Had it not been so constructed it never would have passed the General Assembly and that portion of the 9,000+ abortions (9,321 were performed in 2003, the most recent year for which federal data is available) performed in Maryland on babies in excess of 21 weeks gestation (1.4 percent of all reported abortions were carried out on this group of infants, which would make Maryland’s share about 130) would be called what they are, murder (over 30,000 children with less than 28 weeks gestation were recorded as live births in 2004).
According to the bill sponsor:
The law was designed to punish those who kill a pregnant woman or her fetus but not to outlaw abortions, said Del. Christopher B. Shank, a Washington County Republican and a bill sponsor. “We didn’t want abortion to become a factor.”
The statute includes a paragraph exempting “an act or failure to act of a pregnant woman with regard to her own fetus.” Some say the provision appears to trump the provision authorizing prosecution of those who have “wantonly or recklessly disregarded” the likelihood that their actions would lead to the death or injury of a viable fetus.
In my view, there is no difference whatsoever in the dismembering of a viable fetus in a state sanctioned abattoir and a mother leaving a pre-term baby to die of exposure and neglect. The child is dead and the mother has exercised her “right to choose.”
Mr. Todd’s decision to pursue this particular case given the facts and the law seems to be nothing more than political grandstanding while laying off of the responsibility for dropping the charges on a grand jury.