ELKTON, Maryland, January 26, 2012 ( – Prosecutors are moving forward with murder charges against two Maryland abortionists for the deaths of unborn babies, allegedly killed in illegal abortions.

Steven Chase Brigham, who is charged with five counts of first-degree murder, five counts of second-degree murder, and one count of conspiracy to commit murder, is scheduled to stand trial in June of 2012, reports an Operation Rescue press release. Pre-trial hearing dates have been set for May 4th and 25th.

Brigham has requested a separate trial from his co-defendant, Nicola Riley, who he employed to perform late-term abortions at a clinic in Elkton, Maryland. The abortionist did not have a license to perform abortions in Maryland, and was operating the clinic secretly.

An Operation Rescue investigation revealed that Riley had lied about her criminal background in order to obtain licensure in three states. According to the pro-life organization, both Riley and Brigham had been banned from performing abortions in any state by the time of their arrest.


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Riley’s trial date has not yet been released, but a motion filed by her attorneys to dismiss the case was recently made public. She is charged with one count of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder, and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.

Prosecutors are pursuing murder charges based not on a late term abortion ban, but on a law which allows a person to be charged with homicide if they kill an unborn baby in the course of committing another crime.

The motion filed by Riley claims that Maryland law provides immunity from criminal liability for a licensed physician performing an abortion.

It also argues that the fetal homicide statute under which Brigham and Riley are being prosecuted was intended to apply to situations where an unborn child is killed as a result of domestic violence, and not to abortion.

The motion states: “To the extent that the fetal homicide statute applies to Dr. Riley’s conduct, that statute and the one governing lawful abortions are unconstitutionally vague.”

Ironically, some pro-life advocates are in agreement with Riley that the law under which she is being prosecuted needs clarification.

“This case raises the interesting question of why the law allows for the protection of viable babies on one hand and the killing of viable babies on the other based solely on how the mother feels about her pregnancy at any particular point in time,” commented Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation.

He continued: “On one point the killer is prosecuted, on the other, he is immune. The coexistence of these two contradictory and incompatible legal doctrines must be reconciled, and maybe this will be the case to do it once and for all in favor of protecting innocent life.” 

Newman also argued, however, that the abortionists were not immune from prosecution even under the existing law, since “the law only seems to give immunity from prosecution to those who are acting within the standards of medical practice.”

“It seems that there is plenty of evidence already in the record in New Jersey and with the Maryland Board of Physicians, to indicate the abortions that led to the murder charges were done illegally and outside the standard of medical practice to the extent that two states determined Brigham’s bi-state late-term abortion scheme posed ‘a clear and imminent danger to the public,” he said.