Remee Jo Lee was six weeks pregnant, in 2013, when her boyfriend tricked her into taking a pill that would cause an abortion. Because of this horrifying episode, Lee was in Florida on Tuesday trying to convince lawmakers there to pass more stringent fetal protection laws, reports Reuters.
"This is the most devastating experience for me," Lee told the Senate Judiciary Committee in Tallahassee. "It just never goes away. I deal with this every day of my life. Every day, when I see a changing table in the bathroom, I remember what I've lost, I deal with the stress of this thing.”
Lee’s then-boyfriend, John Welden, was a pre-med student when the couple learned of the pregnancy. He did not want her to have the baby.
"I was never going to do anything but go full term with it, and he didn't want me to," Lee told WPTV News last year.
Welden’s father, an obstetrician, confirmed the pregnancy for the couple. Welden then convinced Lee that some of her blood work showed she had a minor blood infection. He filled a prescription bottle with the drug Cytotec, a stomach ulcer medication that can cause an abortion. He gave the drugs to Lee, telling her they were antibiotics.
Lee began taking the drugs as she believed they had been prescribed. She began cramping and bleeding and took herself to the hospital, where she was told that she had lost the baby. She had been pregnant for six weeks and five days.
Welden was sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison in January. He was charged under the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act, punishable by life in prison. Facing such stiff penalties, Welden pleaded guilty to charges of product tampering, and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
There are currently no laws on the books in Florida that protect a fetus unable to survive outside the womb. Because Lee had only been six weeks pregnant, there was no state law that applied to her case. For that reason she was in Tallhassee on Tuesday, testifying in support of Sen. Kelli Stargel’s bill that would make the killing or injury of an unborn baby a separate offense when a pregnant woman is killed or injured.
Follwing Lee’s testimony, the Senate committee voted 6-2 to move the bill along to the Senate Rules Committee for scheduling of floor debate. A similar bill is pending in Florida’s House Judiciary Committee.
The new legislative session convenes March 4.