Ben Johnson

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Lawyer invokes Roe v. Wade to defend man who tricked girlfriend into taking abortion pill

Ben Johnson
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TAMPA BAY, FL, June 14, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A defense lawyer has invoked the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in defense of his client, who is accused of giving an abortion-inducing drug to his ex-girlfriend without her knowledge.

He also pointed to the government's scant enforcement of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act and contended that, since the drug misoprostol does not directly harm unborn children, the woman might have actually miscarried spontaneously.

John Andrew Welden faces life in prison if convicted of giving Remee Lee, 26, a bottle of Cytotec (misoprostol) that police say he relabeled as Amoxycillin, causing her to abort their six-week-old baby on Easter Sunday. Lee wanted to keep the baby.

In a hearing this morning, defense layer Todd Foster said there are “some tensions” between the Unborn Victims of Violence Act and the 1973 ruling that codified a “right to privacy” that included a woman's right to abort her child.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara interrupted him, asking, “Roe vs. Wade gives the father the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy without her consent?”

After Foster replied, “No,” Lazzara said, “Good. That argument will not fly.”

Lazzara, a 1997 Clinton appointee, “appeared flabbergasted” during the exchange, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Prior to the hearing, Foster would not say what role Roe would play in his defense, telling local reporters, “You'll have to see in the pleadings. I'm not really allowed to comment about pending matters.”

However, his contention in the courtroom echoes that of those who opposed the 2004 Unborn Victims of Violence Act, claiming the law infringed on abortion rights.

Foster also appealed to the government's lack of enforcement of the Bush-era law to clear his client.

In his motion to release Welden on bail, Foster called the case “both unique and unprecedented...presenting novel legal issues.”

“Indeed, defense counsel have located only two other cases in the United States where defendants were charged under” the act, “and both of them were different than this case,” Foster said. “I think it makes it more difficult for everybody, because you don't have the guidance from reading prior cases.”

The use of misoprostol as an abortifacient also lies at the heart of the 22-page motion that Foster filed today.

Cytotec, he says, which has the effect of inducing premature labor in pregnant women, is “non-toxic to fetuses,” so Lee may have had a miscarriage independently of the administration of the drug. 

Court filings show that one doctor claims Lee was cramping and bleeding and at risk of miscarriage before the medicine had been taken – but that doctor was the defendant's father, Dr. Stephen Ward Welden, a Lutz fertility expert whose signature the younger Welden is accused of forging on a prescription pad.

Althogh Hillsborough police officers say Welden confessed the crime to them, Foster now contends his client spoke before having been read his rights. “If there are grounds to try and suppress it, we will,” he said.

Welden is currently in jail and considered a flight risk. A bond hearing has been scheduled for next Thursday. Another pretrial hearing will be held in September. The trial will begin, at earliest, in October.

Lee and her family have spoken publicly about the pain they have gone through at the loss of their child and grandchild, a pain they say will never end.

They hope lawmakers will pass the Offenses Against Unborn Children bill, which State Rep. Larry Ahern may name after Remee or the baby she lost, whom she would have named Memphis Remington.

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Welden is being charged under federal law, since he is accused of the federal crime of product tampering. However, Florida state law only protects unborn children who are “viable.”

Remee said she is still puzzled by Welden's alleged actions and wishes him no harm. “I wanted to see both of us and the baby,” she said.

“This isn’t what I wanted,” Remee Lee told local media. “I wanted to be going to doctor’s appointments. I wanted to have a baby shower. I wanted to see what the baby looked like.”

Pro-life advocates warn that as Plan B is about to go on sale over the counter, the nation will see many more cases like Remees. 

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