New Florida Law Responds to Case of Man Tricking Girlfriend Into Taking Abortion Drug

State   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Oct 2, 2014   |   7:01PM   |   Tallahassee, FL

This Wednesday, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act took effect in Florida. The Act provides that an individual who injures or kills an unborn child during the commission of certain federal crimes will be guilty of a separate offense.

JohnAndrewWelden2The author of the bill, Rep. Larry Ahern said the case that brought attention to the issue occurred when a man strangled his girlfriend and it resulted in the death of her unborn child. The boyfriend knew she was pregnant and the state of Florida even issued a death certificate for the unborn child; but the man was only charged in the death of the woman, not the death of the child.

Another case that helped the bill pass the Florida Legislature was the case of Remee Lee who was tricked into taking an abortion pill by her ex-boyfriend. Her boyfriend, John Andrew Welden, told her the pill was an antibiotic when it was really the second drug in the deadly RU-486 abortion regimen.

Welden’s father is an obstetrician-gynecologist and performed the ultrasound and blood tests that confirmed Lee’s pregnancy. Welden told his girlfriend that she had an infection and switched the label so the medication would appear to be a common antibiotic. Her unborn baby died at 6-weeks old, and Welden was sentenced to 15 years in prison. However, if the state of Florida had passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act before the time of Welden’s crime, he would have faced a mandatory life sentence if convicted of first-degree murder.

Ahern said that the bills passage is a great accomplishment because pro-lifers in the state have been trying to pass the measure in Florida for over a decade. The Senate sponsor of the bill, Kelli Stargel, says overall the message is clear. She said, “My hope is with this that when a person is going to commit a crime against the woman, they need to take into consideration that if she’s pregnant, it’s going to cause a pretty stiff penalty and they’re going to think twice.”

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Florida joins 37 other states in the U.S. that have laws that recognize the unlawful killing of an unborn child as homicide in at least some circumstances.

Ahern concluded, “…knowing that there were so many obstacles and unfortunately out of such a great tragedy, but that’s what it takes sometimes to get people’s attention at several injustices in our state.”