TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida man was sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison on Monday for tricking his girlfriend into ingesting an abortion-inducing drug last year.
As previously reported, John Andrew Welden, 29, accepted a plea deal in September after admitting to giving his girlfriend, 27-year-old Remee Jo Lee, the pill Cytotec (misoprostol) to induce an abortion. The two had met at a strip club in early 2013 and began a relationship, although Weldon was already in a long-term relationship with another woman.
When Lee discovered that she was pregnant, she told Welden that she wanted to continue the pregnancy, but Welden suggested that she abort.
“I wanted this baby more than anything,” she told ABC News. “Not because it was Andrew’s, but it was my baby as well.”
The Tampa Bay Times reports that Welden had expressed concerns about raising a child with a woman that he did not plan to marry. Reports also outline that Welden suffers from bipolar disorder and suggest that his condition may have contributed to his mental state.
Last March, Welden allegedly forged the signature of his father, an obstetrician, to obtain the drug and relabeled the bottle as Amoxcillin, an antibiotic. He then told Lee that his father had advised that she had an infection and that she should take the antibiotics he provided.
However, shortly after Lee ingested one of the pills, she experienced severe cramping and went to the hospital. She then miscarried the seven-week baby.
Welden was arrested in May and charged under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which carries a mandatory life sentence without parole. However, prosecutors later dropped the charge, which was changed to mail fraud and product tampering, as he had received the prescription by mail.
U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzary was to sentence Welden in December, but decided to postpone the decision as he wished to hear expert testimony on the potency of the drug Cyotec. On Monday, Lazzary heard testimony both for and against Welden, with some advising the court that Welden had begun studying the Bible with his father since the incident, and others urging the court to ensure that justice prevailed. Welden himself also took the stand, expressing remorse for his actions.
“I wish with all my heart that I could take it back and I could do the impossible and turn back time and undo everything,” Welden said. “But I unfortunately can’t.”
Reports state that Welden also quoted Jeremiah 29:11, which reads, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Welden has been attending church while on house arrest.
Lazzary, in announcing his sentence, told Welden that he believed the evidence supported that the drug caused Lee to lose the child, and stated that the woman had a constitutional right to choose to carry the baby to term.
“You, Mr. Welden, deprived her of that in the most cowardly of ways I can think,” he said.
Lazzary then sentenced Welden to 13 years and eight months in prison, stating that Welden’s case must serve as an example to others.
“[There’s a] need to deter anyone who might even think of committing such an evil act,” he stated.
As she left the courthouse, Lee showed reporters a framed picture that contained the ultrasound of the seven week-old child.
“This is my baby,” she said, noting that she had named her unborn child Memphis Remington Lee.