Earlier today, I posted a comment on the use of the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA) in a Tampa, Florida, case. Since then I have been alerted by Doug Johnson (National Right to Life) to an article he posted that contains a great deal of additional information about the application of the UVVA and the facts of the Welden case. It is worth reading.
It turns out that charges have been brought under the UVVA on two occasions. The first involved a 2010 New Mexico case in which the UVVA-based charge was dropped after Frederick Beach pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge for killing a pregnant woman on an Indian reservation. The second case took place in the military justice system when an Air Force enlisted man, Scott D. Boie, surreptitiously gave his pregnant wife misoprostol. He was convicted of the UVVA-based crime. Boie’s appeal has been rejected, and he is serving is 9 ½-year sentence for the UVVA offense and other crimes.
Apparently, Florida’s fetal homicide law is even worse than I thought (see this NRLCwebsite): its quickening provision defines the term “unborn quick child” to mean a “viable fetus.” Triggering a provision such as that would require a gestational age in the early 20-weeks. Remee Lee’s baby was only six or seven weeks along.
The news of this terrible crime spread across the nation after the federal government announced an indictment of John Andrew Welden in Tampa, Florida. Welden tricked his pregnant girlfriend, Remee Lee, into taking a drug, misoprostol (Cytotec®), which produces abortions in early pregnancy. Lee was six weeks pregnant and refused to have an abortion as Welden had demanded.
Welden’s father is an obstetrician-gynecologist who performed the ultrasound and blood tests that confirmed Lee’s pregnancy. (Welden’s father, apparently, was not involved in the crime.)
After confirmation of the pregnancy, John Andrew Welden told Lee that her blood tests revealed that she had an infection. He gave her a bottle of pills in an orange plastic bottle of the type one receives from a pharmacy. Welden falsified a label somehow to indicate that the bottle contained amoxicillin and that a prescription from Welden’s father called for her to take the medicine three times daily.
In fact, the bottle contained misoprostol, the second drug in the RU-486 abortion regimen. Misoprostol is used primarily to prevent patients who take large quantities of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) from developing ulcers. Very late in pregnancies it has legitimate obstetrical uses that, roughly speaking, have to do with inducing the delivery of a healthy full-term baby. However, early, in pregnancies a pregnant woman who takes misoprostol will begin to have uterine contractions that can kill the baby by causing the uterus to expel its contents.
That is what happened in this case. Lee says she woke up on Easter Sunday in a pool of blood. The staff at a nearby hospital told her that her baby had died. It was quickly apparent to these medical professionals that the drug she had been given was not the antibiotic. Interestingly, Welden had gone so far as to eliminate drug-identifying features from the tablets. It was quickly determined that she had, in fact, been given misoprostol.
I am not sure how the case developed – optimally this matter would be handled by state authorities who would prosecute the matter. Unfortunately, Florida law is archaic when it comes to the protection of the unborn. According to Americans United for Life (see Defending Life 2012), “[u]nder Florida criminal law, the killing of an unborn child after ‘quickening’ (discernible movement in the womb) is defined as manslaughter.” Prior to quickening, killing an unborn baby is not a crime in Florida.
Remee Lee’s baby was only six week’s old gestationally. Typically, quickening occurs from weeks 13 to 16. A manslaughter prosecution would not have been possible in this case. It may be this fact that brought about the federal government’s involvement.
On May 14th a federal grand jury indictment was unsealed against Welden that contained two counts. Count One charges Welden with tampering with consumer products (18 U.S.C.§ 1365(a)) – in this case, the drugs taken by Remee Lee which relied upon a falsified prescriptive drug label and tablets that were defaced. Count Two, relying upon the drug tampering, then proceeds to charge Welden with violations of the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act (18 U.S.C.§ 1841) and the federal murder provision (18 U.S.C.§ 1111(a)).
The UVVA is a federal act. Federal jurisdiction in a Florida murder depends on the violation of an underlying federal law. Typically, this will involve interstate commerce, and, in this case, it is tampering with a consumer product. That provision is referenced in the UVVA.
Praise needs to be given to the federal officials involved: Robert E. O’Neill (U.S. Attorney - Middle District of Florida), W. Stephen Muldrow (Assistant, U.S. Attorney), and A. Lee Bentley, III (First Assistant U.S. Attorney, Chief, Criminal Division – Tampa).
No cheers for the state of Florida which needs to amend its abortion statute.
If you don’t work in policy or the pro-life movement, or if you’re not particularly passionate about the issue of abortion, you may never have heard of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions (with the usual exceptions of cases of rape or incest or where a mother’s life is at risk).
Regardless of whether or not you’re familiar with the ins and outs of this federal policy, you probably appreciate the logic behind it. Many of us consider abortion nothing less than taking the life of an innocent person. Not using federal tax dollars to fund it is a no-brainer.
Apart from repealing Hyde, the folks over at NNAF have lots of suggestions for women who cannot afford to procure an abortion. Here are a choice few:
Do I have a credit card? Does a friend or family member have one? (If I have time, can I apply for a new card? Could I request a limit increase, which can often take effect on the next business day? I can put just a portion of the cost on a credit card if my limit isn’t high enough.)
Can I get a line of credit at my bank?
Is there an emergency fund at my church?
Can I use my cable bill money toward my abortion and then ask someone else for help with my cable bill?
Are there people who might not help me cover the cost of an abortion, but would help me cover other costs? Am I comfortable lying to a friend or family member, telling them that I had an unexpectedly high electric bill or gas bill due to heating or A/C costs?
Are there bills that I can pay late or skip this month? Can I talk to the electric company about changing the due date for my bill? (Note that it’s illegal for utilities to shut off the heat source for non-payment during the coldest winter months.)
So: there you have it. Taking on credit card debt, not paying your bills in the knowledge that your utility company may still have to supply you with their service, dipping into the emergency fund at your church (which may or may not strongly oppose abortion), or lying to a friend or family member are all acceptable solutions if you are struggling to pay for an abortion.
P.S. If you have a moment, consider contacting the NNAF’s board members and the organizations that these individuals represent to see if they’re actually comfortable encouraging women to use all these strategies. See the list below:
Tomorrow, I will be participating in the Step Forward for Orphans March to bring awareness to the more than 10 million children around the world who live outside a family setting, in an institution, or even on the street. Adoption in the United States is often hindered by delays, bureaucracy, and prohibitive costs. Overseas adoptions are also expensive and filled with seemingly insurmountable barriers. One major benefit for families hoping to adopt is the adoption tax credit. The adoption tax credit “offsets qualified adoption expenses.” Any U.S. taxpayer who adopts an eligible child will qualify for a credit, which is currently a maximum of $12,650.
Another major hurdle for the adoption process is the lack of genuine understanding of adoption in general. In her Washington Postcolumn, “A Mother’s Day Plea to Stop Equating Adoption with Abandonment,” Nina Easton discusses the very serious bias facing birthmothers and the adoption decision in our society. Because adoption is not readily celebrated in our society, birthmothers face misunderstanding and are often stigmatized.Easton reveals some sobering facts about adoption in her discussion. She notes, “Birth mothers in the United States each year number in only the thousands, compared with approximately 1.2 million abortions performed annually… Women bucking the cultural tide generally do not publicize their choice. They are much more willing to admit they have terminated a pregnancy, adoption advocates say, than to say they have placed a live newborn with loving parents.” Easton goes on to say that in order to turn the tide, we must ensure that adoption becomes an “empowering” option for young women in crisis through the knowledge that they are supported and honored by their friends, family and church.
One website, ichooseadoption.org, maintained by the National Council for Adoption, presents a great forum for birthmothers and families to learn more about adoption. The site lays out resources, from contacts with representatives to videos and stories from birthmothers who chose adoption.
In order to provide homes for children who are currently without families and support for women in crisis pregnancy, proponents of the sanctity of life should do all we can to advocate for the beautiful choice of adoption. We need to celebrate adoption and promote policies that make this life-changing and life-affirming option more readily accessible.
Pro-abortion groups are reacting to the Gosnell verdict with predictable spin. It’s all the fault of those anti-choice people, they say. If more women had greater access to free abortion, things like Gosnell’s abattoir would never have happened, they claim.
Brenda Pratt Shafer is a nurse who once worked in a facility that does late-term abortions. In 1996, she testified under oath before Congress about what a day is like in one of those well-appointed, well-lighted, clean, approved centers, the kind that are being offered to Americans today as the answer to Kermit Gosnell’s filthy house of horrors.
The abortionist in Nurse Shafer’s story did not want his patient to see what he had done to her unborn child. “Try to discourage her from seeing the baby,” he said.
The what? Didn’t he let his mask slip here? Isn’t he supposed to maintain the fiction that it is just a fetus? A mass of cells? A clump of tissue? Or is it alright to call it a baby after the unborn child’s dead body has been removed from the womb and thrown in a cold metal pan?
A recent poll released by Gallup shows a strong majority of Americans oppose all or most abortions. It’s even more interesting that young people are more likely to oppose abortion in all cases than any other group. Over 40% of Democrats oppose abortion most of the time and 12% oppose it entirely. What does this suggest? Well if we apply the same standard to abortion that applies to marriage then it would suggest that the pro-life position is becoming the position of inevitability. It would suggest that politicians should make sure they are on the right side of history, that the Democratic party is starting to fragment, and that both parties should cater to pro-life beliefs if they want to win over young people. But of course the same standard will not be applied.
There is a lesson to be learned. If one continues to speak the truth people may listen, even if it takes years and even if the media does not report it. So let’s keep up the pro-life momentum and make the end of abortion in America a reality!
Yes, Sir Winston Churchill was here, too. He actually came to see the Falls at least twice, in 1900 as a rising journalist, and again in 1943, when he was Britain’s wartime Prime Minister. On that latter occasion, he was prodded by pesky reporters who wanted to know if he’d ever seen the Falls before and what he thought of them.
“I have seen them before, before you were born,” he ribbed the self-important young journos, “and I see the principle remains the same.”
The reason everyone wanted to know what Churchill thought is because of what happened on this day – May 10, 1940. It was on that day when, despite all odds, Churchill became Prime Minister of an embattled Great Britain.
On this day, too, Adolph Hitler ended the phony war in the West that many had taken to calling a “Sitzkrieg.” Hitler had left Berlin in the early hours of May 10th. He rode over velvet-smooth tracks in his private train, oddly named “Amerika.” He wanted to be there for the jumping off of his powerful army, his Wehrmacht.