A Virginia woman has been arrested and charged with self-inducing an abortion in the third trimester.
The Virginian Pilot reports that police investigated the home of 43-year-old Michelle Roberts and found fetal remains buried in Roberts’ backyard.
Roberts claims she gave birth to the baby boy in her home, but that he died after birth, so she buried him. The timeline of Roberts’ due date and when she allegedly had the baby, however, do not seem to line up and an investigation is underway.
Roberts was arrested on felony charges of “producing abortion or miscarriage.” The law in this case is rather obscure and not often invoked. It prohibits a pregnant woman from taking a drug or any other action “with intent to destroy her unborn child.”
Some women’s rights groups are supporting Roberts. "It is unclear from the questionable, selective release of information by the Chesterfield police exactly what happened here," said Gail Deady, the Secular Society Women's Rights legal fellow for the Virginia ACLU. "But it appears that this is another example of overreach and targeting of a pregnant woman in an attempt to shame and punish her for her circumstances."
In the past, a judge has ruled that the law was not created to punish expectant mothers, but instead to hold those accountable who harm pregnant women. It remains to be seen how the law will be applied in Roberts’ case.
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Publication date: April 24, 2017