A nurse in Arkansas has been criminally charged for performing an abortion after she allegedly administered a medication to a woman to help her terminate her pregnancy.
Karen Collins, a 32-year-old Drew County nurse, was charged Friday with one count of performing an unlicensed abortion and a separate count of performing an unlawful abortion. She allegedly gave drugs to 37-year-old patient Anne Bynum, who was 33 weeks pregnant, to induce an abortion, ArkansasOnline reports.
Arkansas has some of the nation’s harshest anti-abortion laws. The state has led the way in abortion restrictions in 2015, passing six new laws and two resolutions in a single month. Laws passed this year have banned telemedicine abortions, doubled the mandatory waiting period to 48 hours, forced abortion providers to tell women that medication-induced abortion is reversible (a claim regarded by medical experts as false and misleading), cut public funding for providers, and expanded the parental consent law to require victims of rape, incest, and sexual abuse who are under 18 to file a petition in court if they are seeking an abortion without their parent’s permission. Other restrictions include forced pre-abortion counseling sessions, TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers), and a ban on abortions after 20 weeks fertilization.
Drew County Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Deen said Collins was issued a court summons in lieu of an arrest warrant and is scheduled to appear in court on June 29, ArkansasOnline reports.
The patient, Bynum, was arrested and jailed in April on two felony counts of concealing a birth and abusing a corpse. She is now free on $20,000 bond, Arkansas Matters reports.
Authorities allege Bynum took the drugs provided by Collins and passed the fetus at her parents’ house around 3 a.m. She then reportedly wrapped the fetus in a plastic bag, put it in her car, and went to sleep for “several hours” before going to the emergency room.
If convicted on both charges, Bynum faces up to 16 years in prison and fines up to $20,000, while Collins could face six years behind bars and $10,000 in fines.
This is just one of a growing number of disturbing cases in which women living in states that limit reproductive health care also criminalize abortions.
On Monday, a Georgia woman was arrested and charged with murder after she attempted to terminate her pregnancy by taking abortion pills purchased online. She ended up going into labor and delivered the fetus in a car on the way to the hospital. The fetus did not survive. The woman, 23-year-old Kenlissa Jones, was promptly charged with malice murder, a crime that is punishable by death or life imprisonment.
In March, Indiana sentenced Purvi Patel, 33, to 20 years in prison on charges of feticide and neglect of a dependent. Patel went to the ER, bleeding heavily, after having a miscarriage and was then arrested. Prosecutors allege she induced an abortion by taking pills she ordered online, but no abortifacients were detected in the toxicology report and the cause of the miscarriage remains unknown. Her conviction sparked an outcry from the reproductive rights community.
“Purvi Patel’s conviction amounts to punishment for having a miscarriage and then seeking medical care, something that no woman should worry would lead to jail time,” activist Deepa Iyer told NBC News.