NORTH CHESTERFIELD, Va. — A Virginia woman is facing criminal charges after allegedly self-aborting her unborn baby and then burying the dead infant in her back yard.
Michelle Roberts, 43, was recently indicted by a grand jury on a felony charge of procuring an abortion “with intent to destroy her unborn child.”
According to reports, police had received a tip in February that human remains were buried behind a home in North Chesterfield. A search warrant was obtained and forensic investigators were called in to excavate the area where the baby was buried.
The deceased child was then sent to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy with the assistance of a forensic anthropologist. It was concluded that the child was aborted during the third trimester and died due to “penetrating injuries to the head.”
It is believed that Roberts’ use of methadone and other drugs used to treat anxiety might have also caused injury to the child.
Police obtained a search warrant for Roberts’ home, and during their investigation, they learned that the father of the child is Roberts’ boyfriend, Danny Coppola, who is currently incarcerated.
Coppola’s mother told police that she had heard the boyfriend of Roberts’ adult daughter blurt out during a domestic dispute, “You better watch yourself because I know what’s buried in the back yard.”
When she confronted Roberts about the matter, Roberts allegedly stated that she gave birth at home with her daughter’s assistance, but passed out in the process, and when she regained consciousness, she was informed that the baby had died. Roberts then wrapped the child—a boy—in a blanket, put him in a box, and then buried him in the back yard.
“[Roberts’ daughter] says she helped her mother deliver the baby, who was stillborn. She says it was her mother who buried the child in the back yard, not in an attempt to hide or dispose of the body, but rather to pay tribute to the baby boy. She says her mother didn’t realize doing so was illegal,” WWBT-TV reports.
However, prosecutors do not believe based on the evidence that the woman suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth, but rather purposefully ended the life of her unborn child.
Roberts is scheduled to appear in court on April 24th and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
The ACLU has decried the charge as possibly being bogus.
“It is unclear from the questionable, selective release of information by the Chesterfield police exactly what happened here, but 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,” Gail Deady, of the ACLU of Virginia’s Secular Society Women’s Rights, said in a statement.
As previously reported, in an introductory lecture to his course on obstetrics in 1854, Philadelphia doctor Hugh Lennox Hodge lamented that even the mothers of his day were lacking of natural affection toward their own children and sought out means to kill them.
“They seem not to realize that the being within them is indeed animate, that is, in verity, a human being—body and spirit—that it is of importance, that its value is inestimable, having reference to this world and the next,” he said. “They act with as much indifference as if the living, intelligent, immortal existence lodged within their organs were of no more value than the bread eaten, or the common excretions of the system.”
“We can bear testimony that in some instances, the woman who has been well educated, who occupies high stations in society, whose influence over others is great, and whose character has not been impugned, will deliberately resort to any and every measure which may effectively destroy her unborn offspring,” Hodge sorrowed.
“[S]he recklessly and boldly adopts measures, however severe and dangerous, for the accomplishment of her unnatural, her guilty purpose … that she may be delivered of [a child] for which she has no desire, and whose birth and appearance she dreads.”