NEWARK – A New York-based attorney specializing in reproductive justice has joined a Lexington woman’s legal representation in a Licking County abortion case, according to Licking County court records.
In February 2020, Kalina Gillum, 22, of Lexington, and her then-boyfriend Braden Mull, 26, of Newark, were charged with involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony; endangering children, a third-degree felony; tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony; and abuse of a corpse, a fifth-degree felony.
Gillum was accused in September 2019 of taking 12 misoprostol tablets at she and Mull’s Heath residence, which they had ordered from India earlier that month to induce labor and terminate her pregnancy. Assistant Licking County Prosecutor Jenny Wells at the time of the indictment said Gillum was in her third trimester and between 28 and 29 weeks pregnant at the time of the incident.
Wells said Gillum gave birth to a boy in the bathroom of their apartment the day after taking the tablets.
“Prior to and following the birth of the child, Mull and Gillum were engaged in text communications. After the birth of the child, neither one of them called 911 or sought any emergency medical treatment for the child and the child did not live,” Wells said.
The prosecutor said the deceased child was found by law enforcement in a shoebox inside a trash bag in their apartment after the couple sought medical treatment for Gillum at Licking Memorial Hospital in the early morning hours of Sept. 20, 2019.
In the weeks following the indictment, anti-abortion groups began writing about the case through a press release and blog post, some using the case to support a ban on administering abortion drugs remotely.
Licking County court records show New York-based attorney Yveka Pierre has since been added to the case to co-represent Gillum alongside Mansfield-based attorney Cassandra Mayer.
Pierre serves as senior litigation counsel at If/When/How, an organization aimed at transforming law and policy so “people…have the power to determine if, when and how to define, create and sustain families with dignity and to actualize sexual and reproductive wellbeing…,” according to their website.
Pierre was unavailable for comment, however, If/When/How’s Communications Director Andrea Grimes said: “No one should be punished because of a pregnancy outcome. Policing, prosecuting, and criminalizing people for their pregnancy outcomes does not serve justice, improve public health, or support healthy families.”
She argued major legal and medical groups, including the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Bar Association agree with that stance. She also argued Ohio law doesn’t support that prosecution.
“No woman should have to go through being policed and prosecuted for her pregnancy outcomes, and we are working to make sure this never happens to another person,” Grimes continued.
Licking County court records show Gillum’s case is scheduled for trial beginning in May.
Mull pleaded guilty to charges of child endangering and abuse of a corpse in October. Court records show sentencing in his case is scheduled on May 19 before Judge Thomas Marcelain.
Gillum’s co-counsel, Cassandra Mayer, could not be reached for comment by The Advocate’s deadline.