Phoenix Woman Faked Cancer to Get Free Abortion, Authorities Say

Cancer cells, at 500x magnification.EXPAND
Cancer cells, at 500x magnification.
National Cancer Institute

A Phoenix woman is accused of faking cancer so she could get a taxpayer-funded, late-term abortion, authorities say.

The Arizona Attorney General's Office just filed several felony charges against the woman, who got the abortion more than five years ago. According to the AG's office, she was found out after an investigation by the office, the FBI, and investigators from the state's Medicaid program.

According to the AG, in early 2010, Chalice Zeitner, then 30, went to her obstetrician and said she had cancer, and that her pregnancy put her life in danger.

Zeitner allegedly told the obstetrician she had stage IV sarcoma. (According to the American Cancer Society, stage IV "is the highest and means the cancer is more advanced than in the lower stages.")

She further told the doctor that she had ongoing cancer treatments in Boston, and was due to have tumors removed from her abdomen and spine.

The abortion was performed at a Phoenix hospital in April 2010.

Chalice Zeitner.
Chalice Zeitner.
Arizona AG

Zeitner, who was enrolled in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the state's medicaid program, got the state to cover her abortion as AHCCCS will cover cases where the mother's life is in danger.

At some point, authorities became aware that Zeitner may have falsified some medical documents showing she had cancer, and when her supposed primary cancer doctor was contacted, he said he'd never even met Zeitner, according to the AG's office.

Charges were filed last week against her, including two fraud-related charges, plus charges of forgery, identity theft, and theft — totaling five felonies.

An FBI task force arrested Zeitner in Georgia on Friday. Authorities say she used an alias in Georgia.

"We will investigate corruption wherever it exists," Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement.

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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