Could A Stillbirth Land You Behind Bars?
Despite the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe v Wade, women in Nevada are living with some of the most liberal abortion laws in the country. Abortion in Nevada is legal, as long as the procedure occurs within a particular time frame. And even if you’re under the age of 18, you have an abortion without a parent’s consent. If you cannot find a provider willing to perform an abortion, you can legally travel out of state to have the procedure. With these comparatively reasonable rules in place on abortion, how can it be that a woman was sent to prison for having a miscarriage in this state?
The Facts of the Case
When Patience Frazier discovered that she was pregnant, it was anything but good news. The 26-year-old already had two children, and had spent plenty of time living with them in her car. She’d struggled with abuse and depression, and the thought of having another child was overwhelming. She wasn’t sure how far along she was, having a history of irregular periods, but she was sure of one thing: she did not want to have a baby.
Frazier decided she wanted an abortion. Unfortunately, the nearest provider was a couple of hours away, and her car wasn’t running. With no way to get there, she did an internet search to find a home remedy for abortion. She went on to consume lots of cinnamon and to smoke pot daily. She lifted heavy things, all in an effort to induce a miscarriage. Ultimately, she had a stillbirth at the home of a friend with whom she was staying. She wrapped the baby with a stuffed animal, named him Abel, and buried him in the backyard. Then she went on Facebook to lament her sorry life and poor choices.
Just over a month later, detectives showed up to arrest her. Within a year she was in prison. That’s because even though abortion is legal in Nevada, a 1911 law, NRS 200.220, brands it a felony to terminate a pregnancy after the 24th week. Frazier’s baby was determined to be at least 28 weeks old according to an autopsy. Because he had traces of marijuana and methamphetamines in his body, and because Frazier had told deputies that she’d researched ways to manage an abortion by herself, she could be charged with two crimes: concealing the child’s birth and manslaughter—a gross misdemeanor and a felony respectively.
Is This Reasonable or Fair?
Frazier’s case has taken a number of twists and turns since the arrest. The greater issue, though, is this: do Nevadans want women who experience a stillbirth to be potentially subjected to the scrutiny of conservative thought in the event they experience a late term stillbirth?
Fighting for You
Women and their physicians are increasingly under attack in this country. Will doctors be unwilling to engage with women who have high-risk pregnancies because of the possibility of late-term issues that could result in the loss of the baby? Will women who desperately need care be left to navigate pregnancy on their own? If you are facing legal issues related to abortion or a stillbirth, the experienced and tenacious Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers at Lobo Law are here to help. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.