No Murder Charges For Colo. Woman Who Cut Fetus From Womb, Focus Is On Brutal Assault Of Mother

On March 18th, a pregnant Michelle Wilkins answered a Craigslist ad for baby clothes. When she arrived at the seller’s home in Longmont, Colo., she was brutally attacked by another woman, Dynel Lane. Wilkins was beaten, cut open, and her fetus was removed.

At some point, the fetus died. Lane and her husband, who supposedly believed Lane had just given birth, took the fetus to the hospital where it was declared dead. That’s also where Lane was arrested. Wilkins had been taken to the same hospital for surgery and medical staff were able to put two and two together.

On Thursday, March 26th, Boulder County prosecutor Stanley Garnett announced that no murder charges would be brought against Lane. Colorado law does not recognize fetal personhood and it’s unclear at what point the fetus died. Murder charges could only be filed if the fetus had been alive outside of the womb.

However, Colorado law makes adequate provision for punishing this kind of assault. Violently causing a fetus to die can bring a sentence of 32 years in prison. That is just one of the charges Lane faces. Local station 11 News listed a total of eight that were filed on Friday afternoon:

Attempted murder in the 1st degree, with two crime of violence enhancers.
2 counts of 1st degree assault.
2 counts of 2nd degree assault.
and unlawful termination of pregnancy in the 1st degree.

Colorado law is more about focusing on women than on theoretical babies. It is one of only 12 states with no fetal homicide law because legislators did not want to interfere with women’s abortion rights. They defeated a measure in 2013 and were reaffirmed by the voters in 2014 when a ballot measure on fetal homicide was also defeated.

That rightfully puts the focus on the woman, Michelle Wilkins, who underwent a horrific attack. It’s Wilkins who suffered, Wilkins who sustained the shock of loss, Wilkins who survived, and Wilkins who must now recover.

Responding officer Billy Sawyer was amazed at her courage and strength. Wilkins was attacked in the basement of Dynel Lane’s home. Despite bleeding heavily, she dragged herself to a room where she could lock herself in, called the police, and directed them to her location. The officer said:

“She was covered in blood. She did not know she was no longer with her child … She is the only reason why she’s alive right now.”

Michelle Wilkins’ family released a statement earlier this week to tell the public that she is out of the hospital and in a safe place to recover. The outpouring of support has been been tremendous. The family set up a GoFundMe account with a goal of raising $75,000 for her longterm recovery. As of this writing, the fund had reached over $88,000.

Unfortunately, there is a movement afoot in Colorado and the nation to politicize this horrible crime. Abortion foes are determined to use the case to push for a fetal homicide law in the state, even though 65% of Colorado voters rejected the ballot proposal in 2014. The president of Personhood USA, Keith Mason, called the situation in Colorado “absurd.”

But the height of absurdity was actually reached by someone in the right-wing camp — opportunistic Republican Congressman Gordon Klingenschmitt (R-Colorado Springs). Klingenschmitt announced in a speech that the attack on Wilkins was God’s punishment for America allowing legal abortions. He said:

“This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb — and part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open.”

These vile words are nothing more than a renewed attack upon an already suffering mother but, unfortunately, are the kind of tactic used by right-wing fanatics to impose their will on the rest of the nation. To further add to the offensiveness of his stance, Klingenschmitt also announced that his charity donated $1,000 to the Wilkins family.

This required the family to address his hateful nonsense while trying to also deal with Michelle’s overwhelming circumstance. On Friday, the family posted the following statement on the GoFundMe account:

Just wanted everyone to know:

Payment Refunded.
A refund of $1,000.00 has been issued for a payment made by Gordon Klingenschmitt for “Michelle Wilkins Fund (Longmont CO)”. The money has been removed from your account: “Michelle Wilkins Trust Fund (Longmont CO)”.

It’s outrageous that the victim of a vicious crime has to also cope with hate-mongering at her expense. Michelle Wilkins has conducted herself with a courage and dignity that will serve her well in her recovery. But those words — ‘courage’, ‘dignity’, as well as ‘respect’ — are unknown concepts to the far-right hate groups that seek to capitalize on a bereaved woman’s pain.

Featured photo from Michelle Wilkins GoFundMe page