Virginia authorities released an autopsy report this week for a late-term unborn baby boy whose mother allegedly self-aborted him and then buried him in her back yard.
Michelle Frances Roberts, 43, of Chesterfield County, Virginia, faces a class 4 felony for a charge of producing an abortion/miscarriage with the “intent to destroy her unborn child,” according to WTVR 6 News. A grand jury indicted her on the charges earlier in April after police discovered the baby’s remains buried in her back yard.
The medical examiner’s report, released this week, says the baby boy died after suffering “penetrating injuries to the head,” NBC 12 reports. Other factors in his death included his mother’s use of methadone and two other drugs used to treat ADHD and anxiety, according to the medical examiner.
Authorities previously said the baby boy was in the third trimester, meaning he was viable outside the womb.
Chesterfield Police said the baby’s remains were buried approximately five to six months ago.
Police began investigating last year after the mother of Roberts’ long-term boyfriend contacted them in February 2016; she told police that Roberts had been pregnant but had not given birth, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch and WTVR. Police said they later found the baby’s remains in the yard.
Abortion activists are protesting the charges, just as they have done with similar cases.
The newspaper reports:
“No woman should fear arrest or jail for ending her own pregnancy or for pregnancy loss,” said Gail Deady, the organization’s Secular Society Women’s Rights Legal Fellow, in a statement.
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“The particular law implicated in this case does not apply to a pregnant woman — it applies to third parties only.”
Although Deady said it remains unclear what precisely happened, “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.”
Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation of Virginia, said a majority of Americans believe that abortion should be prohibited after the midpoint of a pregnancy “even if done by a so-called doctor, but killing an unborn child in the last weeks before they are born and burying their little body in the backyard is simply horrific.”
Roberts is scheduled to appear in court again on April 24.