Man who slipped girlfriend abortion pill could get 41 month sentence instead of 13 years
TAMPA, FL, December 9, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A federal judge has delayed the sentencing of a man who tricked his ex-girlfriend into taking an abortion-inducing drug, because the judge is not convinced the pill caused the woman's miscarriage on Easter Sunday.
U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara has expressed doubts that one tablet of Cytotec was responsible for Remy Jo Lee losing the baby she conceived with John Andrew Welden.
Welden signed a plea bargain in September to avoid life in prison for violating the 2004 Unborn Victims of Violence Act. The agreement recommended Welden be sentenced to 13 years and eight months in prison.
But he could get off with as little as 41 months thanks to Judge Lazzara, a 1997 Clinton appointee.
“The Court has grave concerns with regard to whether there exists a true factual basis to support” the plea bargain parties have already signed, Lazzara wrote.
Instead, he gave credence to defense attorney Todd Foster's argument that Cytotec (misoprostol), an ulcer drug often used off-label to induce abortion, usually requires 1,000 milligrams to cause a miscarriage. (Foster also invoked Roe v. Wade to defend Welden's actions.)
Lazzara now says he wants “a preponderance of the evidence that the victim's ingestion of” one 200 mg tablet of “Cytotec in fact caused her serious bodily injury and in fact caused the death of her unborn embryo."
If he is unconvinced, he will use his own discretion in granting Welden a lighter sentence.
The new hearing has not yet been scheduled.
Welden's guilt is not at issue. Welden admitted to giving Lee the drug and said he was going to Hell in phone conversations Lee secretly recorded.
He told the court he forged the name of his father, Dr. Stephen Welden, on a prescription and obtained Cytotec with the help of an employee of Sunlake Pharmacy in Lutz, Florda.
Welden then gave his ex-girlfriend, Remy Jo Lee, a bottle of Cytotec (misoprostol) that had been falsely labeled as “Amoxicillin.”
After Lee took one pill, which she referred to as Welden's “weapon of choice,” she miscarried at a local hospital, on March 31 – Easter Sunday.
Lee desperately wanted to keep the child. “Every day is a nightmare for me ever since this began,” she said.
The baby, at nearly seven weeks' gestation, was about one-third of an inch long, according to court documents.
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Since the child was not yet viable, Florida state law does not punish Welden's action. The loss of their grandchild has spurred Remee and her parents, Edward and Rosa Lee, to support the Offenses Against Unborn Children bill, a state measure allowing Florida law enforcement to prosecute anyone who kills an unborn child before the point of viability. "We do not want this to happen to any other daughter," Edward Lee said.
Pro-life activists have said the availability of Plan B One Step over the counter will increase sad tales such as hers, something apparently borne out by subsequent events.
Earlier this month a judge sentenced a native Afghan, Karim Habibi, to 15 months in prison and a five-year restraining order for conspiring to slip an abortifacient drug to his British girlfriend, Helen Dean, last June.
Students for Life of America released an undercover video in November showing a 33-year-old man successfully purchasing the morning-after pill from pharmacies over-the-counter, although he told employees that he intended to slip it to his 15-year-old “girlfriend,” who wanted to keep their baby.