North Carolina Teen Gave Birth After Secret Pregnancy & Buried Infant In Her Backyard

A teen girl in North Carolina kept her pregnancy a secret from everyone but her boyfriend, then buried their newborn in her backyard. Police said the infant appeared to have bled to death because the umbilical cord was cut improperly.

Ashley Reed from Louisburg gave birth alone to her 8.5 lb. daughter, but texted her 18-year-old boyfriend through the birth. After the infant died — it’s not clear whether the baby was intentionally or accidentally killed — Ashley placed the newborn in a grocery bag and buried it in her yard. The body was found in late June; a funeral was held for the baby girl last week.

Even accounting for the relative immaturity of some teenagers, one has to wonder why they kept this pregnancy a secret the entire time.  I feel a lot of compassion for Ashley — even though was happened to the baby is obviously horrible — because her state’s religious culture and conservative political landscape set up the situation to be very hard for girls like her. It’s worth nothing that the law in North Carolina requires parental consent for a minor to have an abortion.  I’ve also seen Ashley’s age reported as both 15 and 16 and I’m wondering if her boyfriend’s age spurred their secrecy (the age of consent in NC is 16). There are so many questions that are still unanswered: Was Ashley ashamed of having a teen pregnancy? Was she ashamed of being sexually active? Was she afraid of being punished by her parents or school if they knew she had a baby? Did she have any access birth control?  Did Ashley and her boyfriend have a plan for what to do with the baby after she was born?

Ashley was charged with the felony of failure to report a death and released on a $50,000 bond. It should be noted she hasn’t been charged (yet) with manslaughter or murder. Whatever happens to Ashley — and hello, her boyfriend, he’s not innocent here either — I hope she gets some of the help she so clearly needs.

[New York Daily New]
[Guttmacher: Abortion Laws In North Carolina]
[Age Of Consent Laws]

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[Image of gravestones via Shutterstock]