TAMPA — The woman deprived of John Andrew Welden's baby now says she wakes up each day to the horror of her own reality, only to realize she can't escape it.
"Every day is a nightmare for me," Remee Jo Lee said.
Lee, 26, appeared Tuesday on CNN's New Day program in a 10-minute segment with anchor Chris Cuomo. It was her first interview since May, when federal prosecutors charged Welden with murder under the 2004 Unborn Victims of Violence Act.
On Monday, he pleaded guilty in Tampa federal court to lesser charges, admitting that he slipped Lee an abortion pill with the intent of ending her nearly 7-week-long pregnancy.
Lee called the pregnancy a blessing; her loss, devastating.
"I thought it was a new life for me," she told CNN. "Now there's no words, just the horror I wake up to every day. That this is my reality. There's no escaping it. There's no turning it off."
Cuomo asked whether the two had ever talked about having children. Lee said her No. 1 goal was to be a mom. She did not say whether Welden ever expressed a desire to have children with her.
Court records show that she had told Welden of a prior abortion. That topic didn't come up in the CNN interview, where Lee reported that she had warned him she would not get an abortion if she became pregnant.
Welden's reaction to the positive pregnancy test?
"Typical man," Lee said. "Very scared, negative, you know, questioning what's going to happen."
She said Welden, 28, told her right away, "You have to terminate the pregnancy."
She saw the sonogram when they visited his gynecologist father for a checkup. "Everything was great, fine, fabulous, wonderful at that point," she said. Then Welden called to say the lab work detected a bacterial infection requiring antibiotics.
Lee said she accepted pills from him without hesitation because she thought he was a doctor in training. In truth, he was an undergraduate student taking premed courses. And the "antibiotics" were actually Cytotec, a drug that can cause contractions and abortion.
She said little about the miscarriage, just that a doctor had told her there was no more life.
"Nothing will ever bring back what I've lost," she said. "Nothing will ever bring back Memphis."
She explained her name choice: Memphis Remington Welden. Memphis for the city where Welden spent parts of his youth. Remington after Remee.
"Do you believe he regrets what he did?" Cuomo asked her.
"I don't know," Lee said. "I'd love to know."
Welden can't respond. His attorney, Todd Foster, isn't allowing interviews yet. But Foster said on the courthouse steps Monday, "I'm certain he's remorseful."
Welden faces up to 15 years in prison. Foster and prosecutor Stephen Muldrow jointly recommended 13 years and eight months. He's scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 5.
Lee did have one nice thing to say about him during the interview: "I feel very proud of him that he was able to take responsibility for his actions," she said.
Staff writer Patty Ryan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3382.