Dr. Nicola Irene Riley, 46, was arrested Wednesday night on murder charges for allegedly performing numerous late-term abortions in New Jersey and Maryland, including one botched abortion in 2010. The case is the first of its kind in Maryland; the two doctors have been charged for a fetal homicide statute.
“They have been indicted based upon a fetal homicide statute.This is probably the first case that Maryland has ever seen with this factual scenario using this statute. It’s a unique situation,” Maryland State Attorney Ellis Rollins told Reuters in an interview.
Riley, a family physician, was hired by Dr. Steven Chase Brigham, 55, to help perform late-term abortions. Investigators say those abortions were started in New Jersey then the pregnant women drove themselves across state lines to Maryland where the abortions were completed. Investigators believe the abortions were completed in Maryland because the state’s abortion law is less restrictive than in nearby states.
“They would start the abortions up in New Jersey, inject them with saline to kill the fetus, then bring them down in vans the next day to complete the abortion,” said Nancy Jacobs, Maryland State Senator.
Investigators believe Brigham hired Riley because she is licensed to practice medicine in the state of Maryland while he is not.
The investigation into the abortions began when an 18-year-old woman who was 21 weeks pregnant was hospitalized after a botched abortion; her uterus was ruptured and bowels extended. She had to undergo immediate surgery.
“They didn’t call 911; she was bleeding profusely. They stuck her [the mother] in their car [and] they drove up to the hospital and wouldn’t enter the hospital,” said Maryland State Sen. Nancy Jacobs.
After the failed abortions, police in Elkton, Maryland, searched Riley’s clinic and found a freezer with 35 late-term fetuses inside, including one possibly aborted at 36 weeks — nearly full-term.
Riley was arrested late Wednesday in her East Bench home. She has been charged with one count each of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Her license to practice medicine has been suspended in Maryland but is still active in Utah.
“’Regarding Dr. Riley’s arrest, the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing has no comment but the division continues to monitor Maryland’s case against Dr. Riley and will carefully review the details as it moves forward to see if any further determination needs to be made from our end,” said Jennifer Bolton.
Dr. Riley signed an agreement not to perform abortions in Utah while the Maryland investigation runs its course. She is charged with murder and conspiracy.
Riley’s lawyer in Maryland was not available for comment