Murder charges dropped in Maryland abortion case

Charges have been dropped against Maryland doctors Steven Brigham and Nicola Riley.

Story highlights

  • Murder charges are dropped against two doctors over late-term abortions they performed
  • The doctors, Steven Brigham and Nicola Riley, had each faced various counts of murder
  • Maryland is one of 38 states with fetal homicide laws
Murder charges against two Maryland doctors over abortions they performed on late-term fetuses have been dropped, prosecutors said Wednesday.
"We have exercised our discretion to dismiss them at this point," said Cecil County State's Attorney Ellis Rollins.
The doctors, Steven Brigham and Nicola Riley, had faced identical charges: five counts each of first-degree murder, five of second-degree murder and one of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
The investigation began August 13, 2010, when Riley brought a woman into an Elkton hospital due to a "complication resulting from a medical procedure," police said. The woman had driven from New Jersey to Maryland for an abortion, investigators later determined.
Days later, Elkton police searched the abortion clinic where Brigham and Riley work and found several fetuses "in a freezer chest." The fetuses were taken to a medical examiner's office in Baltimore, according a police news release.
Maryland is one of 38 states that have fetal homicide laws, often supported by anti-abortion advocates, which advocates say are intended to protect the lives of both the pregnant woman and the fetus.