Jailed Mom: Why I Helped My Daughter Miscarry

Jennifer Ann Whalen found pills online
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2014 12:34 PM CDT
Jailed Mom: Why I Helped My Daughter Miscarry
This Sept. 22, 2010 photo shows bottles of the abortion-inducing drug RU-486, the former name of a drug used in the case.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

A mother who has been jailed for nine to 18 months after providing abortion drugs for her daughter has offered her side of the story to the New York Times. Jennifer Whalen says she doesn't want to be an icon for the activists who have been calling her, but she does want the media to get the facts straight: Unlike what Whalen believes some headlines suggested, she didn't provide a "back-alley surgery," Emily Bazelon writes. Instead, after her daughter revealed her pregnancy, they both looked online for abortion clinics. The closest was 75 miles away, and the price was high. Further searching indicated the availability of $45 drugs, which Whalen says she didn't know were illegal to buy without a prescription.

"They said these pills would help give a miscarriage, and they were the same ones a doctor would give you," she says. The daughter took the drugs, which caused pain that ultimately drove her to the hospital. Staff there reported the pill use to authorities; ultimately, the district attorney chose to prosecute. "This case is not about pro-life or pro-choice," but "about endangering the welfare of a child" via illegally-used medicine, the DA has said. Whalen pleaded guilty to the felony of abortion consultation without a license, and the judge sentenced her to jail, though probation was an option, Bazelon notes. A sexual health researcher weighs in on the case: Whalen's "situation is very scary legally, because we are seeing the number of clinics dwindle," she notes. "If women don’t have access to abortion clinics, some will turn to the Internet, and then, will they be charged with a crime?” Click for the full piece. (More Jennifer Ann Whalen stories.)

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