NAPW Documentation State v. Greywind

April 14, 2012

State v. Greywind, No. CR-92-447 (N.D. Cass County Ct. Apr. 10, 1992).

On February 7, 1992, Martina Greywind, a twenty-eight-year-old homeless Native American woman from Fargo who was approximately twelve weeks pregnant, was arrested. She was charged with reckless endangerment based on the claim that by inhaling the vapors of paint fumes, she was creating a substantial risk of serious bodily injury or death to her unborn child. The complaint alleged:

[The] defendant willfully created a substantial risk of serious bodily injury or death to another, to-wit: . . . MARTINA GREYWIND, while pregnant intentionally inhaled the vapors of a volatile chemical in violation of North Dakota Century Code 12.1-31-06 and thereby willfully created a substantial risk of serious bodily injury or death to her unborn child.

On February 10, 1992, Ms. Greywind, without a lawyer, initially pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to nine months at a state prison farm and ordered to participate in a chemical dependency program. After an attorney took her case, however, Ms. Greywind was allowed to withdraw her plea on February 12, 1992.

During this time, members of the Lambs of Christ were active in Fargo attempting to disrupt the Fargo Women's Health Clinic, the only abortion clinic in North Dakota. The Lambs of Christ is a loosely organized group of Roman Catholics who "focus on the rescue of unborn children." They had been in North Dakota since March and members of their group had been repeatedly jailed. News stories about the case reported that members of the group who had been arrested attempted to befriend Ms. Greywind while they were in jail together.

According to court records and the press, Lambs of Christ spokesperson Ronald Maxson posted $100 for a $1000 personal recognizance bond for Ms. Greywind. Nine hours after her release on bail, Ms. Greywind was re-arrested because police allegedly caught her sniffing paint again. She pleaded guilty to illegal inhalation of chemical vapors and was transferred to the state mental hospital. The State's Attorney said Ms. Greywind was to spend thirty days in the hospital or jail as her sentence. On February 20, 1992, a lawyer for the Lambs of Christ filed a petition seeking to have the woman's brother, Ken Greywind, appointed her legal guardian, apparently in an effort to prevent Ms. Greywind from having an abortion. According to an affidavit filed by Mr. Greywind, "I believe she is contemplating an abortion in order to have the charge of reckless endangerment dismissed and get out of jail so she can continue to abuse her body." The court denied Mr. Greywind’s petition.

On February 21, 1992 the State and Ms. Greywind entered a stipulation -- an agreement between the parties -- that Ms. Greywind “be released from the Cass County Jail for the following medical and/or psychological appointment: February 22, 1992, at 11:00 A.M.” According to press reports, this release enabled Ms. Greywind to obtain an abortion at the Fargo Women’s Health Clinic. Ms. Greywind obtained the abortion, despite widely-publicized efforts by abortion opponents to persuade her to carry the pregnancy to term including a financial offer conveyed by the Lambs of Christ of at least $10,000. Ms. Greywind expressed a desire to have the abortion, but also her inability to pay the cost of the procedure. North Dakota law prohibited state funding of abortion. According to the press, anonymous donors offered to pay for the $300-400 cost of her abortion. On February 24, 1992, Mr. Maxson of the Lambs of Christ requested that the $100 bail be returned to him. The request was granted.

On March 30, 1992, Ms. Greywind filed a motion to dismiss the charges arguing that “the State in this case [was] seeking to criminalize the pregnancy of a drug-addicted woman by applying a strained and unforeseen construction of the North Dakota reckless endangerment statute," as well as other grounds including the fact that the abortion rendered the case moot. Assistant Cass County Prosecutor Steve Dawson then filed a motion to dismiss with prejudice stating:

On February 10, 1992 [Martina Greywind] was charged with the offense of Reckless Endangerment, a class A misdemeanor. The defendant has recently undergone treatment at the North Dakota State Hospital and is presently in custody at the Cass County Jail on a subsequent and pending charge of Inhalation of Volatile Chemicals in violation of N.D.C.C. Section 12.1-31-06. Defendant has made it known to the State that she has terminated her pregnancy. Consequently, the controversial legal issues presented are no longer ripe for litigation. Further, the likelihood of this extreme factual situation recurring is limited. In the interest of preserving limited prosecutorial and judicial resources, Plaintiff hereby moves to dismiss the Complaint in this action with prejudice.

According to news reports, the prosecutor in the case stated that since Ms. Greywind had the abortion, it was “no longer worth the time or expense to prosecute her.” On April 10, 1992, the child endangerment charge was dismissed.


See Amended Stipulation, State v. Greywind, No. CR-92-447 (N.D. Cass County Ct. Apr. 10, 1992); Brief in Support of Motion To Dismiss, State v. Greywind, No. CR-92-447 (N.D. Cass County Ct. Apr. 10, 1992); Case Profile, State v. Greywind, No. CR-92-447 (N.D. Cass County Ct. Apr. 10, 1992); Complaint, State v. Greywind, No. CR-92-447 (N.D. Cass County Ct. Apr. 10, 1992); Judgment of Conviction and Sentence, State v. Greywind, No. CR-92-447 (N.D. Cass County Ct. Apr. 10, 1992) (the guilty plea and sentence that was later withdrawn when she got an attorney); Motion to Dismiss, State v. Greywind, No. CR-92-447 (N.D. Cass County Ct. Apr. 10, 1992); Motion to Dismiss With Prejudice, State v. Greywind, No. CR-92-447 (N.D. Cass County Ct. Apr. 10, 1992); Stipulation, State v. Greywind, No. CR-92-447 (N.D. Cass County Ct. Apr. 10, 1992); Michele Cook, Sobering Dilemma; After Paint-Sniffing Martha Greywind Became Pregnant, She Was Arrested, ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS (Minn.), Mar. 1, 1992, at 1A; Richard Doerflinger, Editorial, So If You Pay to Have Someone Killed, That’s Sensitive?, WASH. TIMES, Feb. 27, 1992, at G2 (editorial written by associate director of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops condemning offers to pay for Ms. Greywind’s abortion); Pat Doyle, Addicted and Pregnant, N.D. Woman Is Pulled Into the Abortion Fray, STAR TRIB. (Minneapolis), Feb. 21, 1992, at 1A; Pat Doyle, Woman Chooses Abortion Over Offer of $11,000, STAR TRIB. (Minneapolis), Feb. 25, 1992, at 1A; Tony Lone Fight, Greywind: Time to Heal as the Glare of Media Fades, Martina Greywind’s Brother Hopes to Become Her Guardian and Force Her Into Treatment, GRAND FORKS HERALD (N.D.), Feb. 26, 1992, at 1A; Greywind’s Attorney Asks Dismissal of Her Charges, GRAND FORKS HERALD (N.D.), Apr. 1, 1992, at 6A; Gail Stewart Hand, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome; Laying Blame When a Punch Kills, GRAND FORKS HERALD (N.D.), July 14, 1992, at 5A (noting that the same county that pursued charges against Ms. Greywind did not pursue any charges against a man who beat a pregnant woman); Gail Steward Hand, Woman or Children First? Fargo’s Martina Gerywind Brought an Unpleasant Issue Into Focus: When Pregnant and Addicted, Do the Rights of the Mother or Fetus Take Priority, GRAND FORKS HERALD (N.D.), July 12, 1992, at 1A; Gina Kolata, Nomadic Group of Anti-Abortionist Uses New Tactics to Make Its Mark, N.Y. TIMES, Mar. 24, 1992, at A12; Gina Kolata, Street Woman at Center of Abortion Drama, N.Y. TIMES, Feb. 15, 1992, at 6; Gina Kolata, Woman in Abortion Dispute Ends Her Pregnancy, N.Y. TIMES, Feb. 26, 1992, at A10; Stephen J. Lee, Fargo Paint Sniffer Caught Again, GRAND FORKS HERALD (N.D.), Feb. 14, 1992, at 1A; Paint Sniffer Aborts Fetus After Offer, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES (Fla.), Feb. 27, 1992, at 7A; Paint Sniffer Greywind Won’t Face Fetal Danger Charge, GRAND FORKS HERALD (N.D.), Apr. 11, 1992, at 1A; Prosecutor Drops Charges in N.D. Paint Sniffing Case, ORLANDO SENTINEL, Apr. 12, 1992, at A23; Dan Rylance, UND Prof: Greywind’s Fetus Harmed by Alcohol, Not Paint, GRAND FORKS HERALD (N.D.), Feb. 14, 1992, at 9A; Tracy Shateck, Indians Hard For Non-Indians to Adopt: White Couples Have Said They Want Greywind’s Baby, But It Won’t Be Easy, GRAND FORKS HERALD (N.D.), Feb. 22, 1992, at 8A; To Stop Abortion By Addict, Her Brother Steps In, N.Y. TIMES, Feb. 23, 1992, at 1; Marilynn Wheeler, Abortion Foes Ask Greywind ‘What’s the Baby Worth?’, GRAND FORKS HERALD (N.D.), Feb. 15, 1992, at 7A; Marilynn Wheeler, Fargo Woman Becomes Pregnant, Cause Abortion Activists Start Bidding War Over Jailed Paint Sniffer’s Seventh Child, GRAND FORKS HERALD (N.D.), Feb. 13, 1992, at 1A; Marilynn Wheeler, Greywind Abortion? Paint Sniffer Visits Fargo Clinic, But Fate of Fetus Is Uncertain, GRAND FORKS HERALD, (N.D.), Feb. 23, 1992, at 1A; Marilynn Wheeler, Paint-Sniffing Woman Jailed for Risk to Fetus, GRAND FORKS HERALD (N.D.), Feb. 12, 1992, at 6A. See also JEFFREY OLEN ET AL., APPLYING ETHICS: A TEXT WITH READINGS 164 (8th ed. 2005) (presenting case study of Martina Greywind); WINONA LADUKE, RECOVERING THE SACRED: THE POWER OF NAMING AND CLAIMING 138, 139 n.21 (2005) (“It is the racism that allows a story of a Native woman who is homeless, pregnant, and addicted to drugs to occupy the front page of a newspaper for a month, while never discussing the circumstances that make people homeless or the fact that the homeless shelters in the same town are entirely full of Native people.”); 16 Abortion Protesters Convicted in N.D., N.Y. TIMES, Sept. 19, 1991 (noting that members of Lambs of Christ, the group offering Ms. Greywind money to forego abortion, were arrested after protesting the Fargo abortion clinic); Edward Guthmann, ‘Citizen’s’ Payne Plays Abortion for Laughs; Trying to Sell ‘Ruth’ Drove Him Out of Hollywood, S.F. CHRON., Jan. 7, 1997, at E1 (a review of CITIZEN RUTH); CITIZEN RUTH (Independent Pictures 1996) (a film loosely based on Ms. Greywind’s case).

1)Complaint, State v. Greywind, No. CR-92-447 (N.D. Cass County Ct. Apr. 10, 1992).
2) To Stop Abortion By Addict, Her Brother Steps In, N.Y. TIMES, Feb. 23, 1992, at 1.
3) To Stop Abortion By Addict, Her Brother Steps In, N.Y. TIMES, Feb. 23, 1992, at 1.
4) Amended Stipulation, State v. Greywind, No. CR-92-447 (N.D. Cass County Ct. Apr. 10, 1992).
5) Brief in Support of Motion To Dismiss at 2, State v. Greywind, No. CR-92-447 (N.D. Cass County Ct. Apr. 10, 1992).
6) Motion to Dismiss With Prejudice, State v. Greywind, No. CR-92-447 (N.D. Cass County Ct. Apr. 10, 1992).
7) Prosecutor Drops Charges in N.D. Paint Sniffing Case, ORLANDO SENTINEL, Apr. 12, 1992, at A23.