The Florida man who tricked his girlfriend into aborting their child turned himself in yesterday to serve a 13-year prison sentence. He was sentenced Monday.
John Andrew Welden, 29, the son of an OB-GYN, forged his father's signature in order to obtain a prescription for the anti-ulcer drug Cytotec, which is known to cause birth defects, abortion and premature birth.
Disguising the pills as antibiotics, Welden and gave them to his girlfriend, Remee Jo Lee, 27, after convincing her she had an infection. Lee was six weeks pregnant at the time, and a series of text messages between the two show that Lee wanted to have the baby while Welden did not.
The day after accompanying Lee to this father's practice to confirm the pregnancy, Welden told Lee her lab work indicated she had a bacterial infection and that needed to take antibiotics. Lee took one of the pills and the next day suffered severe pain and cramps.
Lee stayed home from work, and according to the plea, Welden brought her soup and "expressed concern over the health of the baby."
Lee later miscarried.
In September, Welden pleaded guilty to federal charges of product tampering and mail fraud. His murder charge was dropped in a plea bargain.
Welden's attorney, Todd Foster, told the Tampa Bay Times the prosecution would not have been able to prove a murder charge because, despite the pills label, it could not be scientifically proven that taking Cytotec had caused Lee's miscarriage.
The warning on the medication states that, "administration to women who are pregnant can cause birth defects, abortion or premature birth. Uterine rupture has been reported when misoprostol [Cytotec is misoprostol's brand name] was administered in pregnant women to induce labor or to induce abortion beyond the eighth week."
Judge Richard A. Lazzara recommended Welden serve his sentence in a low-security prison near Pensacola, Fla., but a location has not been officially determined.
"I don't believe Welden's an evil person," said Lazzara, according to the Tampa Bay Times, "but he committed an evil act and he' going the pay the consequences."
Welden has also been ordered to pay Lee $28,541 in restitution.
In September, Lee appeared on CNN to talk about the case.
"Every day is a nightmare for me," she said. "I thought it was a new life for me. Now there's no words, just the horror I wake up to every day. That this is my reality. There's no escaping it. There's no turning it off."
Lee has since become vocal supporter of a Florida bill known as the Unborn Victims Violence Act, which was introduced after her case. Filed by Republican Senator, Kelli Stargel, the bill seeks to make hurting or killing an unborn child a separate crime from that of attacking the mother.
"More violence happens to pregnant women than pretty much any other woman, and that's unfortunate," Stargel told Florida media. "What we're trying to do is put a precedent into law that says if you harm a woman because she's pregnant - or for any reason, and she's pregnant - and that baby dies as a result, you've done violence against two."
The bill is currently being debated in the judiciary committee.