Alli Snow (allisnow) wrote,
Alli Snow

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Caesarean refusal leads to murder charge

Friday, March 12, 2004 Posted: 12:13 PM EST (1713 GMT)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) -- A pregnant woman who allegedly ignored medical warnings to have a Caesarean section to save her twins was charged Thursday with murder after one of the babies was stillborn.

Prosecutors said Melissa Ann Rowland, 28, didn't want the scars that accompany the surgery.

An autopsy found the baby died two days before its January 13 delivery and that it would have survived if Rowland had had a C-section when her doctors urged her to, between Christmas and January 9. The other baby is alive, but authorities had no further information.

The doctors had warned that without a C-section, the twins would probably die, authorities said. A nurse told police Rowland said a Caesarean would "ruin her life" and she would rather "lose one of the babies than be cut like that."

"We are unable to find any reason other than the cosmetic motivations" for the mother's decision, said Kent Morgan, spokesman for the district attorney.

Court documents give no address for Rowland, and she isn't listed in area telephone books. An attorney was to be appointed for her Friday, Morgan said.

The charges carry five years to life in prison. Rowland was jailed on $250,000 bail.

According to the documents, Rowland went to LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City in December to seek advice after she hadn't felt her babies move. A nurse, Regina Davis, told police she instructed Rowland to go immediately to one of two other hospitals, but that Rowland said she would rather have both babies die before going to either place.

On January 2, a doctor at LDS Hospital examined Rowland and recommended an immediate C-section based on an ultrasound and the babies' slowing heart rates. Rowland left, the doctor told police.

The same day, Rowland allegedly saw a nurse at another hospital, saying she had left LDS Hospital because the doctor wanted to cut her "from breast bone to pubic bone."

A week later, Rowland allegedly went to a third hospital to verify whether her babies were alive. A nurse there told police she could not detect a heartbeat from one twin and advised Rowland to remain in the hospital, but Rowland allegedly ignored the advice.

In January, the state Supreme Court ruled that unborn children at all stages of development are covered under the state's criminal homicide statute. The law exempts the death of a fetus during an abortion.

The law has been used to prosecute women who kill or seriously harm their babies through drug use; it has never been used because a woman failed to follow her doctor's advice, said Marguerite Driessen, a law professor at Brigham Young University.

"It's very troubling to have somebody come in and say we're going to charge this mother for murder because we don't like the choices she made," Driessen said.

Yeah, and I know what the lib argument to this will be, but I still find it disgusting.

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