In recent years, pro-life Americans have worked to pass laws that make it a crime not to provide medical assistance to an unborn baby born alive after an attempted abortion and to restrict efforts to increase the availability of getting abortion pills without seeing a doctor.
Abortion advocates have fought these two reasonable efforts tooth-and-nail calling them unnecessary, but a tragedy in Licking County, Ohio shows not only how necessary they are but also why these reasonable protections are opposed only by the most radical in the pro-choice community.
Beneath all of the social and political rhetoric, we mourn the loss of Cayden Gillum, a baby born alive after an attempted third-trimester abortion, allowed to die, and then discarded in the trash. There will be no justice for the child at the true center of this tragedy because of a recent decision by a judge.
Kalina Gillum and her then-boyfriend, Braden Mull, tried in 2019 to terminate her pregnancy in the third trimester with abortion pills that they illegally ordered off of the internet.. Abortion pills can be taken until the 10th week of pregnancy. Kalina was 28 or 29 weeks along. The pills didn’t work as she intended; her son was born alive on a bathroom floor. Instead of rushing to seek medical care, she and Mull decided to allow the child to die.
According to prosecutors, Gillum sent a photo of the newly born child to Mull with text messages that stated “it’s out” and “it’s moving.” In fact, court records show the two texted each other from when Mull left for work that morning through when the child was born.
It wasn’t until nine hours later that Gillum entered a hospital after losing a lot of blood and being unable to deliver the placenta.
Firefighters reportedly later found the child’s body inside a shoebox placed in trash bag.
For those who don’t know how abortion pills work, RU-486, also called Mifeprex or mifepristone, is a drug that acts to end a baby's life in the early stages of pregnancy by blocking progesterone. Without progesterone, the unborn baby's life is no longer supported and he or she will die. Several days after taking the Mifepristone, a woman takes a prostaglandin called misoprostol, also known as Cytotec, to expel the now deceased unborn child.
Charges were filed, but the most severe one (homicide) was thrown out by the judge. Mull pleaded guilty to one count of child endangering and abuse of a corpse and received a one-year sentence. But after a trial, Gillum received a legal slap on the wrist: probation. However, this was after a jury found her guilty of endangering a child, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.
But that wasn’t enough for her to see the inside of a cell.
Licking County Common Pleas Court Judge David Branstool issued the probation sentence last month. His decision, he said, came from revelations Gillum had suffered horrific abuse at the hands of Mull – claims the jury did not hear.
Prosecutor Bill Hayes said justice means the defendant should be held accountable for their actions and a deterrent should be in place not to do the same thing again. He doesn’t feel that’s been the case. In fact, he worries it will go in the opposite direction of a deterrent.
“Our concern is those who would see this and take a like action if they attempted an abortion but had a live child,” Hayes told Greater Columbus Right to Life. “A person may feel they now won’t go to prison that abortion fails, and they make similar choices.”
Prosecutors didn’t try this as a “pro-life vs. pro-choice” case.
“We prosecuted this as a child-endangering case,” Hayes said. “She was a pregnant woman, but when that child was born she became a mother. She had a duty to take care of him and she didn’t. She put him in a bag in a box.”
Hayes worries about efforts by abortion advocates to broaden the mail order availability of abortion pills will result in more tragedies like this one.
“These pills weren’t supposed to be in the country,” he said of the Misoprostol Gillum took to begin the abortion. “Two orders were placed for the pills; one was stopped by customs and the other one got through.”
Beth Vanderkooi, executive director of Greater Columbus Right to Life agreed, “There is a national and local movement to increase the flow of the abortion pill into this country. Abortion industry advocates are calling for abortion to be available via the mail or telemedicine appointments.”
She said abortion advocates want to repeal laws that require the drugs to be dispensed in a particular way by medical professionals, and they want to eliminate laws the allow the drugs to be mailed into the country from questionable internet sources.
“They are also actively training the community on the theoretical availability of ‘self-managed medication abortions,’ which is basically a winking encouragement for more women to obtain abortion pills illegally and self-administer them at home. This is not only deadly for a baby; it is dangerous for women.”
Vanderkooi further added, “Abortion advocates have criticized pregnancy help centers locally by saying that urine pregnancy tests, ultra-sounds performed by nurses and reviewed by doctors, and referrals for ongoing obstetric care is not enough medical oversight to talk to women about options and help available should they continue their pregnancies. These are the same people who want women to be able to access powerful drugs that have resulted in injury and death without every seeing a single medical professional.”
Vanderkooi added, “Once again, the politics and radical agenda of the abortion industry doesn’t care if women end up in the hospital hemorrhaging or if the abortion ‘fails’ because the pregnancy is ectopic rather than uterine.” She added that she and the pro-life people of central Ohio are thankful for prosecutors like Bill Hayes who acknowledge the recently born child as fully human, deserving of dignity and the protection of the law.