Orange County prosecutors concluded there was no criminal culpability by staff members at Orange County Women's Main Jail who responded to a pregnant inmate's stillborn birth, which physicians labeled "an incomplete abortion."
The inmate -- known only as Lauren M -- was housed in the women's jail when she had a stillborn birth on April 12, 2012, according to a letter from prosecutors to Sheriff Sandra Hutchens dated Wednesday.
Lauren discovered she was impregnated by her boyfriend through a home pregnancy test kit in February 2012. The couple agreed to abort the pregnancy and end their relationship, according to prosecutors.
Lauren made "multiple attempts" to obtain an abortion, but was unsuccessful for various reasons, according to Deputy District Attorney Israel Claustro, who investigated the stillborn birth.
Huntington Beach police arrested her on March 13, 2012, for possession of a controlled substance, so she could not make a rescheduled appointment for an abortion at a clinic in San Bernardino, Claustro said.
Lauren told jail officials she was about 16 weeks pregnant and wanted an abortion. In April, she was sent to a clinic in Long Beach, where it was determined she was 20 weeks pregnant and that the abortion process would be done over a three-day period.
The inmate began the abortion procedure April 10, returned to the clinic the next day and was scheduled to complete it April 12 when she felt severe cramping early that day and requested medical aid.
A nurse gave her Tylenol, but the cramping continued for a couple of hours.
"Lauren sat on the toilet in an attempt to relieve the cramping and thought she might have to use the bathroom," Claustro wrote in a letter to the sheriff.
Lauren "expelled the fetus in the toilet water" and soon after alerted a deputy, who summoned a nurse. She was rushed to St. Joseph Hospital, where a doctor determined she "suffered an incomplete abortion at 19 weeks," and that the male fetus would not have survived on its own because his lungs were not developed.
Federal law provides women with the right to terminate a pregnancy before the "viability of the fetus" or when to save the life or health of the mother, according to Claustro.
--City News Service