The 28-year-old son of a Florida fertility doctor has been charged by federal authorities with tricking his girlfriend into taking a pill used to induce labor and cause an abortion, killing the embryo she was carrying. The federal case may have far-reaching implications. WFLA's Jeff Patterson reports.
The label on the bottle said it contained a common antibiotic, but prosecutors say inside was a drug that's often used to induce abortions.
Remee Jo Lee, 26, was six weeks pregnant when her boyfriend gave her a pill he said was prescribed by his father, a Florida fertility doctor, to treat a bacterial infection, according to court papers.
Lee says she trustingly swallowed the pill, and within hours started bleeding. She went to the hospital, where she had a miscarriage and learned that her boyfriend had tricked her into terminating her pregnancy, her lawyer alleges.
Now the ex-boyfriend, John Andrew Welden, 28, is in county lockup, facing a civil lawsuit and a murder rap.
A federal indictment unsealed Thursday charged Welden with product-tampering and first-degree murder under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, charges that could carry a life sentence.
Courtesy of Gil Sanchez
Remee Jo Lee says her boyfriend tricked her into taking an abortion pill and she miscarried at six weeks.
The lawyer who represented him at an initial appearance Wednesday did not return a phone call but said in court that the allegations were out of character for his client, according to The Associated Press.
In a civil complaint and statement, Lee's attorney described how an eight-month romance turned toxic when his client became pregnant in February.
Lee "was anticipating motherhood with great joy and excitement," but Welden begged her not to go through with it, lawyer Gil Sanchez said in a press release.
"Everyone dreams of becoming a mom. This was my chance," Lee told told Tampa's WFTS-TV.
In late March, Welden took Lee to his father's Lutz, Fla., clinic for a prenatal examination, including a sonogram and blood and urine samples that confirmed a healthy pregnancy, Lee's lawsuit says.
The next day, Welden told Lee that his father had diagnosed her with an infection and prescribed Amoxicillin, the antibiotic, the suit charges.
In reality, the doctor's son had forged a prescription for Cytotec, an ulcer drug that can be used for non-surgical abortions because it causes contractions, Lee's lawyer said.
"He came to my house with the pills, his weapon of choice," Lee told WFTS.
"He told me to keep taking them. I was supposed to take three a day for days."
Welden later admitted to Lee that he had fooled her, the suit claims. It describes his actions as "outrageous, beyond the bounds of decency and utterly intolerable."
The suit seeks unspecified damages in excess of $15,000.
"We may soon be seeking redress for Lee against others who may have some degree of liability for this heinous act," Sanchez said, without identifying anyone.
Welden, who worked at his father's clinic but was not a doctor, is the only person charged with a crime. Workers at the clinic declined to comment.