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2 Abortion Doctors Face Murder Charges In Cecil County

ELKTON, Md. (WJZ)-- Two abortion doctors face murder charges. The allegations follow a long investigation into a botched abortion in Elkton, Cecil County.

Adam May reports.

Theres some mystery surrounding this case. Officials won't identify the victims but they keep mentioning a freezer full of fetuses, some of them almost full term.

Two doctors who performed late-term abortions in a Cecil County clinic now face murder charges. The police investigation began last year when police say Dr. Steven Brigham and Dr. Nicola Riley performed part of an abortion in New Jersey, then transferred the patient to Maryland to finish it. When the 18-year-old woman suffered complications she was taken to the hospital. Then, police searched the abortion clinic looking for her medical records, but they found something else in the freezer.

"It contained the fetuses, approximately 35," a Cecil County police officer explained. "Some of them appeared to be close to full-term."

Riley, who lives in Utah, faces one count of first- and second-degree murder. Brigham, from New Jersey, faces five counts of murder.

The indictment is sealed so details are limited.

Reached by phone, State's Attorney Ellis Rollins would not tell WJZ if the victims are indeed the fetuses found in the freezer.

Late-term abortions are legal in Maryland, but WJZ has learned that prosecutors are planning to use a viable fetus law until now used only in homicides involving pregnant women.

The abortion clinic in Elkton is now closed but fallout from the investigation has already led to changes in the state's abortion regulations.

"We have the least restrictive abortion laws in the country," Md. Sen. Nancy Jacobs, R-Cecil and Harford County, said.

Jacobs has pushed for stronger late-term abortion laws. Earlier this year, she worked with the Maryland Health Department to increase oversight of abortion clinics.

May: "Do you think these regulations go far enough?"
Jacobs: "They're a great start. I think it's made people more aware of the fact that this was going on."

Both doctors a being held in jails out of state awaiting extradition back to Maryland.

More details on the charges will be available in court documents that could be made public next week.

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