TAMPA, FL, January 27, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The man who tricked his ex-girlfriend into taking an abortion-inducing drug has been sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison.
John Andrew Welden received the full negotiated sentence of 13 years and eight months in a hearing at 1:30 this afternoon.
"I don't think Mr. Welden is an evil person, but he committed an evil act and for that he's going to have to pay the consequences," said U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara as he imposed the full sentence.
Welden signed a plea bargain in September to avoid life in prison for violating the 2004 Unborn Victims of Violence Act. But Lazzara, a 1997 Clinton appointee, nearly let Welden escape with only 41 months in prison.
The 29-year-old, who goes by Andrew, was engaged to Remee Jo Lee, 27. When she became pregnant, he accompanied her to an OB/GYN visit.
He then forged the name of his father, Dr. Stephen Welden, on a prescription of Cytotec and had an employee of Sunlake Pharmacy in Lutz, Florda, mark bottle as antibiotics.
Lee ingested a pill, which induced a miscarriage on March 31. On Easter Sunday, Lee lost a baby she desperately wanted to keep, and had already named. Court records show the child was seven weeks old and was about one-third of an inch long.
“Every day is a nightmare for me ever since this began,” Lee said.
She recorded Welden admitting to the crime, and Welden signed a plea deal.
But defense attorney Todd Foster argued that one tablet of the ulcer medication Cytotec (misoprostol), which is often used off-label to induce abortion, would not be enough to cause her miscarriage. He also invoked Roe v. Wade to defend Welden's actions.
Judge Lazzara gave credence to these arguments at first, offering to reduce his already reduced sentence to less than three-and-a-half years.
Expert testimony convinced Lazzara earlier this month that one pill was indeed sufficient to cause Lee to lose her baby.
The case exposed a tremendous gap in Florida law. Since the child was not yet viable, state law does not punish Welden's action. Ultimately, he entered a guilty plea to consumer product tampering and conspiracy to commit mail fraud in exchange for waiving other charges.
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 advocates warn that, now that the morning-after pill is available without a prescription, forced abortions will become more commonplace.