By Dave Andrusko
NRL News Today has covered the case of John Andrew Welden, its many twists and turns, all the way back to last May when he was indicted on a federal charge that he murdered his own unborn child.
As our readers know, last September Welden cut a deal to avoid a murder charge made possible by the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act– legislation that was instigated by NRLC and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2004. If he’d been convicted on that charge, Welden faced a mandatory life sentence.
Then, at the last possible moment, the judge decided he needed to address the possibility (however slight) that the misoprostol (Cytotec) Welden had tricked Remee Jo Lee into taking had not caused her to lose her 6-7 week old unborn baby.
As we reported, after listening to experts for two days, U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara came to the only conclusion he could have. That the one 200 microgram dose of Cytotec did exactly what Welden intended it to: aborted Lee’s baby boy.
Yesterday Judge Lazzara sentenced the 28-year-old Welden to 13 years and eight months on charges of product tampering and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. That was the sentence originally agreed to by prosecutors and defense attorney Todd Foster.
Most of the stories I read about Monday’s sentencing were matter of fact or snide (Welden quoted the Bible, for example, Jeremiah 29:11, to be specific).
Tampa Bay Times reporter Patty Ryan wrote an entirely different story and included the statements of both Ms. Lee and Welden at the end. Be sure to take five minutes and read her extraordinary account at www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/john-andrew-welden-faces-sentencing-in-tampa-abortion-pill-case/2162858.
You read stories about boyfriends behaving horrifically towards their pregnant girlfriends, up to and including murdering them. We’ve run many stories about jerks who have connived their girlfriends into taking abortion-inducing drugs. Tragically, the availability of drugs that act as abortifacients makes this probably a fairly routine occurrence about which we only occasionally hear.
What Ms. Ryan accomplishes is to bring a human face to this tragedy, to show us the ripple effects of this abortion.
I will leave it to the reader to judge how sincere Welden’s apology was. For what it’s worth, he told the court that he accepted full responsibility for his actions and asked for forgiveness.
“His voice sounded beaten and sorrowful.
“Hers sounded hurt and angry.”
Lee was not in a forgiving mood.
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“Everybody wants to tell you what to do,” she told Judge Lazzara. “The only thing I want you to do is show Andrew the same amount of mercy he showed me during my pregnancy.”
I remember the first time she spoke publicly–on CNN’s New Day program (see “I Just Wanted My Pregnancy”: Women duped into aborting her baby gives first interview to CNN’s “New Day”). She said,
“Nothing else matters in the world to me. Everything I thought was important before this took a really big change when this blessing came into my life. …There’s no words for the horror I wake up to every day, that this is my reality. There’s no escaping it, there’s no turning it off.”
And it was the depths of Ms. Lee’s loss of the baby she had already named Memphis that Ryan conveyed in her account. I don’t to lose the power of the narrative, so I’m going to offer this extended quote. Ryan wrote
Welden may have a dismal future, she said, but Memphis has no future.
“He hurt me really badly,” she testified. “More so than anyone else in this entire world. He took away the most precious thing I could have ever had and that was my baby, our baby.”
She felt death inside of her, she said.
At one point, her remarks turned into a sort of eulogy for the baby she didn’t get to have.
Memphis, she said, filled her every breath with meaning.
Memphis taught her the importance of family.
Memphis taught her how strong she was.
Memphis taught her about self-respect.
“I never want to forget Memphis. I loved being pregnant. I wish that Memphis were here. I need him so much. But he is here. He’s always in my heart. He’s with my family and I think he’s here, he’s what’s brought us all together.”
There was hurt everywhere in the courtroom. Being the dad of an adult son myself, I was especially moved by what Welden’s dad, Dr. Stephen Welden, said to the judge. Ryan reports that Dr. Welden wondered aloud if he should have done something differently with his son.
“If there is such a thing and I didn’t do it,” he said, voice dissolving into a sob, “then I owe everybody an apology.”
 Welden told Ms. Lee that his physician father said that she had an infection and he was bringing her antibiotics. After scratched identifying markings off the Cytotec pills, Welden then put the fraudulent label on the empty pill bottle and put the altered Cytotec pills inside. Welden “also affixed a second label to the bottle reading, ‘Amoxicillin: 125mg oral tablet,’ a common antibiotic,” according to reporter Elaine Silvestrini.