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C-section refusal leads to murder charge

C-section refusal leads to murder charge


Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY - A woman was charged with murder Thursday for allegedly ignoring a doctor's warnings to undergo a Caesarean section to save the life of one of her unborn twins, who was later delivered stillborn.

Melissa Ann Rowland, 28, was charged in Salt Lake County with one first-degree felony count of criminal homicide.

Rowland exhibited "depraved indifference to human life," which eventually "caused the death of Baby Boy Rowland," according to charging documents in the case. One nurse told police that Rowland said a C-section would "ruin her life" and she would rather "lose one of the babies than be cut like that."

A spokesman for the district attorney, Kent Morgan, said Rowland is married and has other children, but he did not know how many.

"We are unable to find any reason other than the cosmetic motivations by the mother" for her decision, Morgan said.

The documents allege that Rowland was warned numerous times between last Christmas and Jan. 9 that if she did not get immediate medical treatment, her twins would likely die. On Jan. 13, Rowland delivered the babies, one of whom was stillborn. The other survived.

The doctor who performed an autopsy found that the baby died two days before delivery and would have survived if Rowland had had a C-section when urged to do so. It was not immediately clear how advanced was Rowland's pregnancy.

According to the documents, Rowland sought medical advice in December because she hadn't felt her babies move. A nurse at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake, Regina Davis, told West Valley police that during a hospital visit, she instructed Rowland to go immediately to either of two hospitals where she could get the care she needed, but Rowland allegedly said she would rather have both of her babies die before she went to either of the suggested hospitals.

On Jan. 2, a doctor at LDS Hospital saw Rowland and recommended she immediately undergo a C-section based on the results of an ultrasound and the babies' slowing heart rates. Rowland left the hospital after signing a document stating that she understood that leaving the hospital might result in death or brain injury to one or both of her babies, the doctor told police.

The same day, a nurse at Salt Lake Regional Hospital saw Rowland, who allegedly told her she had left LDS Hospital because the doctor wanted to cut her "from breast bone to pubic bone," a procedure that would "ruin her life." The nurse also told investigators that Rowland allegedly said she would rather "lose one of her babies than be cut like that."

LDS Hospital can't comment on the case because of medical privacy issues and the pending court case, said spokesman Robert Pexton.

Caesarean sections usually involve delivery through a surgical incision in the abdomen and front wall of the uterus.

Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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