Jon Sanders

A grisly case in Maryland has the pro-abortion movement distressed that a state law banning the murder of an unborn baby could be used against a woman accused of killing her unborn baby. This is what unintended consequences sound like to the abortionistas.

First, here are the preliminary facts in this gruesome case. As of this writing, four pre-term infant bodies have been found at the Ocean City, Maryland, home of Christy Freeman, according to published reports. Police made this discovery after Freeman had been taken to a hospital bleeding heavily, and doctors found a placenta and an unevenly cut umbilical cord. The hospital alerted the police, and the police found the remains of a newly delivered baby boy in her bathroom sink.

Further searching the premises, police found two more infant corpses in a garbage bag in a trunk in her bedroom, and another body in a vehicle parked in her driveway. Chillingly, Fox News reports that police are saying cadaver dogs are indicating more bodies could be found.

According to reports, police believe the infants' deaths were caused by self-induced abortions. They have charged Freeman with the death of the latest victim, under Maryland's fetal-homicide law, which outlaws killing a fetus that could live outside the womb. That law was passed in 2005 in reaction to the 2002 California murders of Laci Peterson and unborn child Conner by Scott Peterson.

A provision of the law, however, appears to allow for self-induced abortion that results in the fetus's death. It exempts from prosecution "an act or failure to act of a pregnant woman with regard to her own fetus."

WBALTV 11 News in Baltimore spoke with two co-sponsors of the law under which Freeman is charged. Maryland Delegate Christopher B. Shank, a Republican, said the exemption was in place because "We didn't want abortion to become a factor."

Another Republican co-sponsor, Delegate Richard B. Weldon Jr., told WBAL that the exemption didn't apply to "wanton or reckless behavior," which he said would include a self-induced abortion. Weldon said Freeman "should be charged under the law."

Weldon was referencing language in a provision of the law that authorized the criminal prosecution for murder or manslaughter if the person charged "wantonly or recklessly disregarded the likelihood that the person's actions would cause the death of or serious physical injury to the viable fetus."

A spokesman for the prosecutor, Worcester County State's Attorney Joel J. Todd, told WBAL that Todd plans to test the limits of the law.


Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is associate director of research at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.