Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Would-be grandparents in abortion drug case want a new state law

TAMPA — The parents of a woman who says she was tricked into taking an abortion pill called on Florida lawmakers Monday to make such deceit a crime.

Rosa and James Edward Lee joined their attorney at a news conference to express their outrage over their daughter's loss of a pregnancy.

Federal prosecutors say that Remee Lee's ex-boyfriend, John Andrew Welden, gave her the labor-inducing drug Cytotec disguised as a harmless antibiotic because he didn't want to be a father.

"One sees faces and not hearts," Rosa Lee said. "I could never imagine that this man would be capable of putting my daughter's life at risk and killing his own fetus."

"We do not want this to happen to any other daughter and request action from our state legislators to pass laws criminalizing this activity," her husband said.

Remee Lee, 26, was nearly 7 weeks along when she lost what was technically still an embryo.

Criminal charges against Welden were brought in federal court, not state court, because Florida's fetal homicide laws don't recognize early stages of gestation. More than two dozen other states recognize all stages, according to organizations that track such laws, which typically exclude voluntary abortions.

Last week, the U.S. Attorney's Office charged Welden with product tampering and first-degree murder under the rarely used federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004, which defines "unborn child" as "a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb."

If someone ends such a life during the commission of another separate federal crime — including product tampering — federal law considers it murder.

Welden, 28, could face life in prison. The government alleges that his actions were premeditated.

Does Remee Lee, whose love for Welden at least briefly survived the incident, want that to happen? She wasn't in attendance Monday. Her father, employed as a maintenance worker, described her as "tearful."

He wouldn't comment when asked about her wishes.

But he talked about what he wants.

"I would like to see him severely punished," he said.

His wife said she was "devastated" by what had happened and asked that others keep Remee in their prayers.

She called the loss of the pregnancy "a tragedy for all of us — for my daughter, for my husband, for me. A tragedy, something very difficult to comprehend."

The case is being closely watched by those who seek to shape policies relating to abortion rights.

The news conference, conducted in both English and Spanish, drew about 20 journalists, though it was held on an asphalt parking lot on a sweltering May afternoon, outside the South Tampa law firm of Sanchez Valencia.

"The entire country is shocked by what transpired," said Tampa attorney Gil Sanchez III, who represents Remee Lee.

He filed a civil lawsuit on her behalf, claiming battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit was filed against Welden, on the day of his arrest, but the attorney said he will look at whether others may be culpable.

The lawsuit's timing was coincidental, he said. He knew of an investigation by local law enforcement but did not know of the pending federal charges.

Like Lee's parents, he called for wider protections for the unborn.

He said Florida needs a law that mirrors the federal law.

"We need to make sure there's a state law that criminalizes it the same way it does in federal court," he said.

He wants to call it the "Remee Lee Law."

Times news researcher John Martin and staff writer Alexandra Zayas contributed to this report. Patty Ryan can be reached at or (813) 226-3382.

James Edward Lee and Rosa Lee, Remee Lee’s parents, answer questions at a press conference Monday in Tampa.


James Edward Lee and Rosa Lee, Remee Lee’s parents, answer questions at a press conference Monday in Tampa.

Would-be grandparents in abortion drug case want a new state law 05/20/13 [Last modified: Monday, May 20, 2013 11:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Nearly 1 in 4 Tampa Bay homeowners considered equity rich

    Real Estate

    If your home is worth at least 50 percent more than you owe, you're rich — equity rich that is.

    About one in four Tampa Bay homeowners are considered "equity rich." [Associated Press file photo]
  2. Trump strategist Steve Bannon: No military solution in North Korea


    BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon says there's no military solution to the threat posed by North Korea and its nuclear ambitions, despite the president's recent pledge to answer further aggression with "fire and fury."

    Steve Bannon, chief White House strategist to President Donald Trump, has drawn fire from some of Trump's closest advisers. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays have their chances, but end up with another loss (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The litany of games the Rays have given away this season is long enough, arguably too lengthy. So the only way to get to the postseason is make up for some of those losses by grabbing some wins when the opportunity is presented, especially at this time of year when the margin is diminished and the stakes …

    Associated Press
  4. Dunedin man accused of possessing child pornography


    DUNEDIN — A 57-year-old man was arrested Wednesday, accused of intentionally downloading child pornography, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

    Richard Beal Anger, 57, of Dunedin faces 11 counts of possession of child pornography. [Courtesy of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Pence cuts short Latin America trip and pressures Chile to sever all ties to North Korea


    SANTIAGO, Chile — Vice President Mike Pence is cutting short his Latin America trip by one day to return to Washington for a strategy meeting Friday at Camp David with President Donald Trump and the national security team.

    Vice President Mike Pence urged Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to take a tougher stand against North Korea on Wednesday in Santiago, Chile.