Charges: Chalice Zeitner made up cancer story to qualify for tax-funded abortion

PHOENIX - A convicted con artist duped the state into paying for her late-term abortion, a procedure which otherwise would not have been funded with public money, according to court records.

Chalice Renee Zeitner made up a story about having cancer in order to qualify for an abortion while on Arizona’s Medicaid insurance, and forged a doctor’s note to support her claim, according to charging documents.

A doctor performed the abortion when Zeitner was 22-weeks pregnant.

Arizona’s Medicaid, known as AHCCCS, will only pay for an abortion in cases of rape or incest or “medical necessity,” which include cases where the pregnancy causes or worsens a serious health risk to the mother.

Zeitner, 29, received “what was thought to be a medically necessary late-term abortion,” court documents state.

“Zeitner claimed she had stage IV sarcoma in her abdomen and lower spine, had received chemotherapy and radiation treatments and was scheduled to receive a life-saving surgery in Boston,” documents state.

That was later determined to be a fraud, according to documents.

Zeitner had produced a one-page letter, purportedly from a Massachusetts doctor, that supported her claims, documents state.

The abortion was performed in 2010.

But one year later, it was another pregnancy that led to the discovery of Zeitner’s alleged scam.

She returned to the same doctor who performed the abortion to deliver a full-term child by cesarean section.  During that birth, the doctor found no signs of cancer, documents state.

That led to a check with the Boston doctor, which revealed that “he did not know Zeitner and had never treated her,” so the cancer letter from him was a fraud, documents state. 

Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office on Tuesday charged Zeitner with felonies including fraud, theft, and forgery. She has a history of skipping town when she gets into trouble with the law, according to court documents. While a warrant was issued Wednesday, records do not yet indicate that she has been arrested.

Zeitner’s aborted child was born alive, weighing just more than one pound, documents state.

“The baby lived for approximately 20 minutes and received no life-saving measure by hospital staff,” according to documents.

A study released Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine said that premature babies born at 22 weeks can survive if treated.

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office declined to comment.

Zeitner has a previous forgery-related conviction in Maricopa County, documents state.

She could not be reached for comment.

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