WASHINGTONVILLE, Pa. — A Pennsylvania woman has been sentenced to a year to 18 months behind bars for illegally giving abortion pills to her teenage daughter.
Jennifer Whalen, 39, of Washingtonville, was sentenced on Friday after pleading guilty last month to purchasing the $45 drugs from an online site based in Europe.
Whalen’s 16-year-old daughter had become pregnant in 2012, but stated that she did not want the baby. When the girl and her mother could not locate an abortion facility in the area, and did not have insurance to cover the procedure in a hospital, Whalen, who works as an aide at a nursing home, ordered abortion inducing drugs online for her daughter.
However, after taking the pills, the teen experienced abdominal cramps and began bleeding. Her mother then took her to the emergency room at Geisinger Medical Center near Bloomsburg, where she was “treated for an incomplete abortion and a urinary tract infection.”
An unidentified doctor at the hospital then called the police, but it took over a year for charges to be filed against Whalen because he case was considered unique. In December 2013, she was charged with unlawfully dispensing medicine, endangering the welfare of a child, simple assault and medical consultation.
Last month, Whalen plead guilty in the Montour County Court of Common Pleas and has been free on $25,000 bail. On Friday, Judge Gary Norton sentenced her to 12 to 18 months behind bars, and ordered that she perform 40 hours of community service upon her release. Whalen was also fined $1,000 for her crimes.
In light of the sentencing, some pro-abortion advocates are stating that Whalen’s case demonstrates the need for greater accessibility to abortion.
“This is why abortions must be kept safe, legal and easier to access. Without that, moms and daughters will do what they need to do,” wrote Kiri Blakely of Cafe Mom’s The Stir. “The crime here is that an abortion wasn’t accessible to this teen and that health care with a hospital stay wasn’t accessible to this mom.”
But Clenard Childress of the Life Education and Resource Network (LEARN) told Christian News Network on Tuesday that the incident is rather an indication of how far culture has fallen in its devaluation of life.
“America should step back and truly see what happens to a culture and the mindset of the fabric of that culture when the sanctity of life is not paramount. We have sown to the wind and we are reaping the whirlwind,” he said. “Life is not sacred, and it is now demonstrated in the womb, it’s demonstrated in the classroom and it’s demonstrated in our streets. And man’s inhumanity to man has exponentially increased with the mindset that we choose whether or not a life or a child has worth only by our own willingness to permit that child to be born.”
“We should not be alarmed at all at the callous killings in our streets, in our schools [or] the domestic violence … when we have a mindset that we determine what is human and what is life, and we choose to take life indiscriminately and with impunity,” Childress continued. “The callousness of society is undoubtedly rooted right into the fact that we take life indiscriminately in the womb. Our most vulnerable are subject to our whim as to whether they live or die.”
Diane Gramley of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania said that the situation could have been avoided altogether as Pennsylvania has safe haven laws in place.
“This baby did not have to die,” she said. “[Whalen] was instrumental in killing her own grandchild, .. [and] in Pennsylvania, it’s ludicrous when we have the safe haven laws, where that baby can be born and be dropped off on a hospital doorstep without any questions asked.”
“But now we have a dead baby, and we have a grandmother who is going to be spending 12 to 18 months in prison because of the steps she took to end the life of her grandchild,” Gramley lamented.