I’m frustrated by the media’s coverage of the case of an Ocean City, Maryland, woman who has been arrested and charged with first degree murder in the death of her unborn child. I feel like the media’s coverage of this story is leaving a lot of questions un-asked and unaswered. As far as I’m concerned, this case is more about abortion and abortion rights than it is about murder. For me, the possibility raised by this case that abortion is being driven back underground through legislation and social convention is far more troubling than the gruesome details of the investigation.
Christy Freeman, a local businesswoman and mother of four, was admitted to hospital after her live-in boyfriend found her in the bathroom, unconscious and bleeding. Hospital staff then discovered that Freeman’s uterus contained a 36-week-old placenta, but no fetus. Freeman initially denied having been pregnant or knowing she had been pregnant, but she later confessed to police that she had given birth to a “gloopity glop,” which she flushed down the toilet. Police searched her home anyway and found a fetus wrapped in a towel and hidden under the sink in the bathroom vanity. Police also found the remains of three other fetuses in the home Freeman shared with her boyfriend and in an RV parked on their property.
It’s as yet unclear how the other fetal remains ended up in the Freeman home and how old they were at the time of death but I assume they, like the most recent fetus, were all delivered premature and stillborn by Freeman, who has been charged with murder only in the case of the most recent fetus. She is being charged under a 2005 state law that makes it illegal to kill a viable fetus. The viability of the fetus found under the sink has yet to be establised, however, as it was only 26 weeks old and appeared to have been stillborn. But according to State’s Attorney Joel Todd, Freeman admitted to having done something to terminate the pregnancy and, while her exact words were not released or quoted, they were enough to earn her a first-degree murder charge.
Because of the media’s coverage of this story, I don’t know enough about the issue or the law to comment on the merits of the state’s case. This makes no difference to me since I am more interested in this woman’s background, where she was raised, what she believed, etc. because I believe that information would shed a lot more light on this case than police reports and quotes from neighbors and prosecutors.
There’s a strong possibility that Christy Freeman is a crazy person. I mean, she lists her four children on her website among her hobbies. But she is also someone who definitely needs sex ed and contraception counseling. After all, this woman had already delivered four children and the four fetal remains clearly indicate that she didn’t want to raise any more kids. But why didn’t she get on the pill, use condoms, a sponge, a diaphragm, spermicidal gel, an IUD or any of the host of other contraceptive combinations available? Did she not know of these things? Or was she just morally opposed to contraception? And, after she got pregnant each of those four times, why didn’t she just pay a visit to the local Planned Parenthood? I know abortion is never an easy choice but it sure beats the hell out of delivering a dead baby in your bathtub, wrapping it in a towel, stashing it under the sink, and waiting for the profuse bleeding to stop. And, it’s a thousand times more disturbing if it turns out that the four fetal remains—essentially multiple miscarriages—were the result of her performing abortions on herself.
Since the media isn’t asking the really important questions in this case, I’m going to speculate on what went down. It’s possible Christy Freeman is completely ignorant of contraceptive methods, but this is unlikely because even in backwards Ocean City, you can find condoms in every gas station and convenience store. More likely, she was raised in a conservative environment where there was little talk of sex or contraception, and where abortion was the ultimate taboo. Why else would this owner of a popular and successful taxicab company endure the horrific ordeal of giving birth to dead or dying babies and then hide the remains in her home? Besides the aforementioned possibility that she’s crazy, of course. Christy Freeman probably did not want anyone to know she had had an abortion because she did not want to be stigmatized. And why would the state’s attorney charge her with first-degree murder? Because the state has decreed that killing a viable fetus (read having an abortion) is tantamount to murder. It seems that Christy Freeman, having found herself trapped between state law and social stigma, had more than enough reason to not seek a safe and professional—but perhaps not 100% secret—abortion.
So what we have is a woman living in a conservative county, in a state that has decided some abortions are murders, who would rather give birth in her bathroom and stash fetal remains around her home than go to Planned Parenthood for an abortion. And, to make matters worse, she is now being charged with murder!
Like Majikthise, we should all be completely outraged! How much longer before we find ourselves back in the bad old days of wire hangers and back alley abortions?