The death of 29 year old Jennifer McKenna Morbelli just days after her late-term abortion in Maryland has resulted in both pro-life and pro-choice activists speaking out.
Huffington Post reports that McKenna Morbelli, a teacher from New Rochelle, NY, had visited a Germantown, MD abortion clinic to begin a several-day procedure to terminate her 33 week pregnancy last week.
McKenna Morbelli’s fetus was determined to have abnormalities, forcing her and her husband TJ to decide to abort the pregnancy. However, since the abnormalities were not life or health threatening to Jennifer, a late-term abortion could not be performed in New York.
A resident of New York, McKenna Morbelli had to travel to Maryland where it is legal to perform late term abortions if there are foetal abnormalities in non-life threatening circumstances. LeRoy Carhart performed the abortion.
Carhart gained national attention when in 2005 another patient of his died after undergoing a similar procedure.
Just four days after her procedure, McKenna Morbelli was admitted to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Maryland after complaining of chest pains and other discomforts. The 29 year old died a few hours later from internal bleeding into her abdominal cavity.
In the wake of her death, pro life groups are calling for Maryland’s legislation regarding late term abortion to be reformed, and for Carhart’s facilities to be closed.
Michael Martelli, executive director for the Maryland Coalition for Life, said, “It is so tragic that this family had to lose not only their nearly full-term child, but also their wife, daughter, and sister.”
“What is most appalling is that the state of Maryland refused to hear the pleas of the community, and has allowed [Carhart] to butcher women and children.”
McKenna Morbelli’s memorial service on Monday and press conference also set the stage for Martelli to call upon the Maryland State Legislature to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which has already been introduced in both the House and Senate and looks to ban late-term abortions, except in cases where a mother's life or health is at risk.
Where the Maryland Coalition for Life is calling for reform, pro-choice groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland are expressing their condolences while remaining steadfast in their belief that women have the right to choose.
“We are keeping a close eye on the details of this situation as they come to light, and, as always, our concern is first and foremost for the safety and health of women," Amber Banks, outreach and communications coordinator for NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, wrote in a statement to The Huffington Post.
"The people who are pushing for laws to ban abortion after a certain point cannot possibly know the circumstances of every woman and her doctor who are making medical decisions about her pregnancy," the statement continued. "Every pregnancy is different, and we believe that every woman has the right to make her own medical decisions based on the unique circumstances in her life.”
While the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Montgomery County Police Department are both investigating McKenna-Morbelli's case, they do not suspect criminal conduct.
However, pro-life activist Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation, said his organization plans on taking legal action against Carhart regardless.
“We will press for criminal charges in this case, in addition to Board discipline," he said in a statement. “We are dedicated to working through the legal system to ensure that no more women will suffer Jennifer’s fate."