Jailed Mom Bought Abortion Pill Online

Mom jailed for helping desperate, pregnant daughter.

Mom jailed for helping desperate, pregnant daughter.

A 39-year-old mom from rural Pennsylvania is serving 9-18 months in jail for buying a pill online to help her daughter induce a miscarriage.

It all began when Jennifer Whalen’s 16-year-old daughter came to her after learning she was pregnant. Jennifer said she’d support any decision her daughter made. After taking a few days to think over her options, the teen determined she couldn’t have a baby so young, and asked her mom to look up clinics, according to the New York Times.

But Pennsylvania’s strict abortion laws left few options.

Clinics were far away, expensive, and a 24 hour waiting period required added hotel costs and time off work. And, Jennifer and her husband had just one car.

But then Jennifer found an online site selling a prescription medication costing $45 that would induce miscarriage.

She didn’t know that buying the drug was illegal.

Such purchases are banned to prevent scams. But this drug was actually safe.

The pill worked as it should: miscarriage causes bleeding and stomach pains. But not realizing this, mom and daughter got scared and went to the hospital.

And so mom ended up in jail for “endangering the welfare of a child through the unauthorized practice of medicine and pharmacy” (meaning: administering a drug without a prescription).

Yet decisions could have been made differently. As Emily Brazelon from the New York Times pointed out,

Hospital authorities decided that they were mandated to report Whalen because they made a judgment call that what she did was “suspected or actual child abuse.” The district attorney, could have declined to press charges. And the judge could have refrained from sending Whalen to jail.

Meanwhile, abortion opponents say they don’t want to imprison women who abort (around 1 in 3 US women).

pill, takingBut the DA says,

This case is not about pro-life or pro-choice, (it’s) about endangering the welfare of a child through the unauthorized practice of medicine and pharmacy.

Yet jailing mom endangers her children who are left unsupervised, and who lose their mom’s income.

And, pregnancy and childbirth are more dangerous than abortion — especially for 16-year-olds.

Plus, laws restricting abortion threaten women’s health, leading some desperate girls and women to order pills online that might be unsafe, or go to back alley abortionists, or perform abortions on themselves with the help of knitting needles or coat hangers.

Making abortion illegal doesn’t stop it. In fact, the stricter the law, the more abortions you tend to get (largely because countries that restrict abortion also restrict sex education and contraception).

That’s why doctors, religious leaders, and women’s advocates had once fought to allow women to terminate pregnancies: because so many girls and women were dying from botched abortions.

Meanwhile, I’m wondering when the DA will start going after men who buy Viagara online, without a prescription.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on October 3, 2014, in feminism, reproductive rights, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 53 Comments.

  1. I do understand that abortion pill, which might cause huge pain to an inner body, needs prescription. But considering the lack of the service, it seems that the decision of the mother to order abortion pill was a necessary decision. I feel confused how it can be considered as “endangering the welfare of a child.” Ironically, the strict abortion laws might be responsible for endangering the welfare of a pregnant child, by blocking safe and secure ways to do abortion.

  2. After reading this article I felt as though this is something very stupid to put a women in Jail for. Abortion is a very controversial topic and there are always going to be people who either share the same views as you or oppose them. Regardless, in my opinion that mom is a good mom. Most parents who come to find out their teenage daughter is pregnant don’t react the same way this mother did as in “I’ll support whatever decision you decide to make whether its keeping the baby or getting an abortion.” If it were my case, my father would disown me and my mother would be disappointed but at the end of the day she would accept any choice that I would make. When speaking of Abortion we often fail to put ourselves in the position where this could happen to us, we constantly think this couldn’t happen to me, this couldn’t happen to my daughter or anyone I know because they’re smart they know better. But we need to put ourselves in that position so we learn to understand why some women and young girls lean towards getting an Abortion. For example, if I were to get pregnant at 19 years old I would get an abortion. Not because I don’t have a soul or a heart or sympathy but because I envision a better future for myself where I am financially stable, I am married and I am capable of thinking and caring for someone other than myself. If I were to keep this theoretical baby I wouldn’t be the best parent, I wouldn’t have an education, I would end up working long hours at a Mcdonald’s or a Retail store which pays minimum wage. I would never see my child because I would choose making ends meet than spending time with them. What kind of life/world would I bringing a kid in? That’s what we have to think about. Society constantly stresses and in a way “bitches” about how this generation of young people don’t know what they’re doing, they don’t have a future, how will they keep America going? But is bringing more children into the world that have unsuitable parents the best idea? Is that what’s going to make our generation better? We make the decisions we make based upon what we know about ourselves.. Whether its Abortion, drinking and driving, going out, not doing our homework etc. not because what society knows about us..

  3. I’ve always had a hard time understanding why a lot of younger teens get abortions. I personally don’t like the idea of abortions, especially because there are many forms of contraceptives out there to help prevent unwanted pregnancies. It’s very saddening to see these young teens getting abortions at such a young age, especially because now days most high schools and colleges provide various contraceptives for free or at a very low cost. As 16 year olds most of us have had already gone through sex education in middle school and/ or in high school, so it’s not like we can say “we didn’t know about birth control”. I just don’t understand why teens go about having unprotected sex and use abortions to avoid the consequences.

    • Well, it’s harder to get sex education and contraception in some parts of the country than in others. And it doesn’t always work — which is the biggest cause of unplanned pregnancies.

  4. Just because the mother went to jail for endangering her daughter doesn’t meant that this is not a pro choose / pro life case. She was practically forced to take that decision. I honestly don’t have a side on this issue because I believe that a fetus is already a baby who deserves to live but I don’t know why the person is to choose abortion. We are often told that we are free, then women should be free to decide. Women just put themselves in danger because they have to do it and there is no safe place to go. Also If they cared about the teens well being why send her mother to jail and leave her unprotected. Instead the family should be provided with therapy after all the trauma they they went thru after all she is just a teen who i think had a very strong experience.

  5. Ona Bettencourt

    This story is tragic, I lost my virginity at 14 and I was blessed with a family who understood me instead of judging me. My mother took me to Planned Parenthood the second I told her and highly recommended I get on a form of birth control and ask for some Plan B pills in case of an accident (abortion pills). When I was 18 I got pregnant WHILE on birth control, first thing I did was go to my parents. They sat down with me and suggested I get an abortion for the sake of my own life, it was just starting to bloom and they wanted to see me grow before I bring another life into this world. Ultimately I chose to keep my baby girl and they supported me 100% and even stayed in the delivery room with me to meet Ms. Audrey. I don’t regret any of it and what made the whole experience better was having the freedom to make the decision to keep her.
    Like stated in the blog, the more the government tries to keep young adults blinded and hidden away from contraceptives is what makes the situation get out of hand. In Portugal, they have allowed ALL drugs and in return: Crime Rate has lowered. The more you tell people they cant do something is the more people want to do it, its just the way the world works, from being an adolescent to becoming an adult.
    Another reason this blog disturbs me is because of the length of the sentence, 9-18 months. I live in CA and I see robbers get 3 months, maybe. The punishment that Ms. Whalen received is considered harsh to me. Not only is the crime going to permanently on her record and hinder her life, her children are suffering without her income while their mother is locked up.
    I believe every woman should have the rights and the freedom to make a personal decision about bringing a child into this world. My story for example: I was on birth control, which means I tried to avoid it and in the end, we had an accident. It would be so morally wrong for my boyfriend and I to not have the right to make a decision based on the events. If we needed to get an abortion, we would have, the only reason we didn’t is because we decided we could handle it. We are currently doing a great job and our baby has brought so much joy to our young lives.

  6. This is so upsetting to read about. Its absolutely idiotic to say that woman are not allowed to have control over their own body’s. Having a baby is a HUGE decision, and a life changing experience and any woman who isn’t ready for that shouldn’t be forced into it. Putting the mother in jail claiming child abuse because she bought what seems to be Plan-B medication is absolutely ridiculous. Every single state should have something like Planned parenthood or some sort of clinic where woman can go that’s safe, to get what they need, so they don’t end up in jail. This mother was in no way abusing her child she was trying to essentially her very young daughters life, trying to save her youth.

  7. I must say that i agree with both sides. The mother was looking out for her daughter but going about it the wrong way. Thankfully as it seems, her daughter is okay. She did in fact endanger the welfare of her daughter for the simple fact that she is not licensed or medically trained. No one knows how our bodies are going to react to this kind of thing and something could have definitely gone wrong and what could she have done? Not only that, but how did she 100% know for a fact that the “abortion pill” she allegedly bought online was in fact an abortion pill? It could have been some type of scam where she could have bought something extremely harmful or deadly for her daughter. If it was that important, she should have taken the time off of work, paid fr the hotel and driven whatever amount of miles it took in order to get the proper procedure and be under the care of a licensed professional. Now as far as the state having these laws, I believe that women should have a right to decide what they want to do with their pregnancy or anything that has to do with their bodies and heath for that matter. I’m not FOR abortion nor am I against it. I think that everyone has some kind of situation going on in their life and deserve the right to chose for themselves. What if someone was raped and became pregnant from such misfortune? I sure wouldn’t want to be reminded or have to share rights with the “father” because of it but it is also taking a life from a potential child that did nothing. As, the article says, because of these laws, there are more and more “illegal” abortions that are coming up and it is also causing women to endanger their own lives by taking a 50/50 chance on using a coat hanger! After this whole issue, I hope the state considers on revising laws to avoid this kind of thing.

  8. berenice paredes

    I don’t believe the mother deserved jail time, she was helping her child in her time of need. I do think she deserved some sort of punishment but jail time seems a little to drastic. Its sad that theirs very minimal clinics that specialize in these sort of cases in Pennsylvania. everyone has their own believes on abortions some agree and some don’t, but that’s a decision a person has to make for themselves and they should be able to have that option. Having a child is huge, its life changing and some people are just not ready. So regardless if its illegal or not some people are going to make the decision to abort the child even if its not safe. Although I do believe if you are not ready to have a child you need to practice safe sex, and people need to be informed of the different types of birth control, that’s where having clinics will also come in handy so people can know they have options and maybe we won’t have so many abortions but I do feel people should be able to make a decision that best fits them.

  9. I do not feel that it is a just act to have put the mother in jail for helping her daughter. It seems that she did the right thing by giving her daughter the opportunity to choose what felt right to her. Offering her daughter help with the decision she made, is what good mothers should do, support and love their daughters no matter what. I agree that having to have an abortion in the first place is a terrible thing, and there should be more education given to young people about sex in hopes to prevent having an abortion. Unfortunately though, no matter how much we educate people on contraceptives and sex, there are still going to be accidents, there are still going to be men out there who rape, and there are still going to be certain health issues that may prevent a woman from being able to have a child. For these reasons and so many more, I feel that every woman should have the right to abort if that is what feels right to her. If laws are made to restrict or penalize women for doing what they feel is best for them, then yes, those women are forced to look elsewhere. How can you tell a woman that has been raped, that she must keep the child of her rapist? How can you tell a 16 year old girl that because she had sex, she has to skip her dreams to be a mom now. Our society advertises sex everywhere, young people see it in the media, magazines, television, video games, the internet etc, and we expect them not to have sex? A 16 year old girl is going through a lot of changes and is becoming a young adult, it is silly of us as a society to put these sexual images in our faces, and not expect our children to be curious or to follow the behavior they observe. On top of all that the media does, we don’t educate them on sex and contraceptives enough. I think I took a total of two classes on sex education my entire school career, both of which just involved boring slide shows and kids cracking jokes over hearing the words penis or vagina. We can’t expect kids to make the right decisions, if we as the adults, cannot find better ways to represent ourselves as human beings. We have to educate them, and we also have to re-educate ourselves. How can anyone think they have the right to tell a woman what she can or can’t do with her body? I think that the mom was doing her very best to help her daughter and she should not be punished for seeking out other avenues to help her daughter. If there were clinics that could support them near by, perhaps she would have chosen that route, but that wasn’t the case so she did what she could to help and I think she was just for doing so. In that same breath, she also should have better prepared both herself and her daughter for the possible side effects. I like that you point out how men can buy viagra online, yet buying an abortion pill without a prescription is against the law. I do think that buying things online, especially pills, can be a dangerous thing, but if there were laws that supported women to have the rights to their bodies, there would be safer routes to take and women wouldn’t have to do things that jeopardize their health or safety to what feels right to them.

  10. I don’t think the mothers deserves to be in jail because I believe that the mother’s best intention were to help her daughter and find a cheapest way to get abortion. Serving 9-18 months in jail was a cruel punishment and it doesn’t promote any awareness to the residents living in Pennsylvania about why abortions should be illegal. I think Pennsylvania should change its strict rule regarding abortions as it only causes more problems in the state. They should focus more in spreading awareness about birth controls, and have more accessible clinics that does abortion and educate women. The world population is growing and everyone will struggle for resources in the future. Large Families will struggle to support their children financially so it’s best that Pennsylvania educate people about its law and have more options for women regarding abortions. Abortions is a tough issue and there’s always two opinions about it.

  11. I cannot help but feel outrage about what happened to this poor woman and her family. What bothers me is the negative undertone that it conveys, that women are not capable of, or cannot be trusted enough to make decisions regarding their own bodies; therefore men are taking it upon themselves to legislate their own ideas of how women are to act when it comes to reproductive issues, which I find absolutely deplorable. The way that the district attorney and judge hid behind the law was just a form of political cover; and, it seems to me that they used this woman and her family to set an example to others who might be in that same situation and considering the same thing. What they did to this woman and her family was criminal not the other way around.

  12. In my opinion I don’t believe that buying a pill online should lead to jail time, although I do believe it should still be illegal for the sake of the women’s health. I do understand under certain circumstances some risky things might be the way out but that’s never the right thing. You’re not only dangering the one carrying the baby but also the baby itself because you never know if the pill is a scam or not. Online pills without prescription should stay illegal but under certain situations the cases should be viewed. Also making abortions illegal will only cause more problems in our society. Not only will our population be outrageous, but many children would suffer due to lack of support by their parents. One of the main reasons women get abortions is because they can’t support the baby, so bringing a child into this world because you HAVE to is very, very unsafe and unhealthy.

  13. Jordan Servito

    Thats really disappointing that she got time because she wanted to help her daughter. When abortion is illegal people have to find other ways to get abortion. And some of the other ways aren’t nearly as safe. I have a lot of friends who got pregnant around this girls age and not to say that they aren’t good parents but almost all of them couldn’t afford to move out or afford a baby sitter. None of them are going to college currently. If you aren’t ready for a baby it should always be up to the mother. Even though I believe it should be up to the mother I personally would vote against getting an abortion. It’s just a really two sided topic.

    • The biggest problem is that voting against it — creating laws against it — doesn’t stop it. It just leads to a lot of deaths of women and girls. Because a desperate woman or girl will find a way to try to get an abortion.

  14. Its quite sad that this had been done, jailing a mother for only having the intent of well-being be done upon her child. Having previously known the truth about pregnancies at 17 or younger holding a danger to a girls health, it makes no sense for Pennsylvania to hold this law an have the mother jailed. I have also always believed that having an abortion is a woman’s choice, because there is always the issue of, like previously mentioned, health complications being very likely for the child and the woman, but also lamentable genetic traits being passed down. Hereditary traits like AVS (Heart disease which disallows a valve in the heart from properly opening and closing, causing damage), which my uncle had passed to my cousin. I understand the reasoning behind “pro-life “, but when more than one life is threatened, tough options like abortion should always be readily available.

  15. I think that all this Mom did was for her daughter’s own good. I can’t understand why people consider abortion so bad. Why would they oppose to something that is affecting other person’s life. I mean, why can’t this people that made a mistake decide for themselves? Who are these other people to be telling her what to do? The one being affected it’s the one that’s supposed to see what’s best. This Mom knew that her daughter was too young to raise a baby; therefore, she did what she did. Who are we to judge her? To be honest I would do the same if I was in her place. I don’t consider this a reason for this mom to be in jail. I think that people should be able to decide things that serious on their own. Abortion should not be illegal and government should be paying more attention to other aspects that really affect our society.

  16. This is exactly the situation that shows how shitty the government can be. A mother tries to help her daughter to prevent future to prevent future trouble and possibility of death only to be jailed by the DA who are arresting her for the misuse of a prescription drug which may only cause the family more trouble under loss of income and stress just by the fact that the mother is in jail. What kind of decision is that?

    I would think they would have judged the situation better putting the effects of what might happen to the family in mind. Also, an 18-month jail sentence seems a little lengthy for the “crime”, maybe a fine or some other form of punishment would have seemed more suitable?

    The topic of abortion itself is such a nasty thing and there is no right or wrong thing to do. I believe it is simply up to the individual all the while still promoting birth control, sex ed, and all that good stuff…

  17. Yajaira Gutierrez

    This is a very sad story and it explains why it shouldn’t be illegal to get an abortion because her mother was only trying to help her daughter and she has to pay for something that she didn’t know was wrong. I also think its up to the people to do what they think is best for them selves for example this 16 year old wasn’t ready for a baby and she decided on having a abortion and her parents were only trying to help therefor they should try to put themselves in her place and see what she must be going through and try to help this family. I also think that abortion shouldn’t be common i think it should just be used when ever it is necessary.

  18. I don’t believe in abortion but I do believe people should have their rights to do what they want with their own body. She hasn’t lived life enough yet to bring another life into the world. If she has a baby at age 16 then she will most likely drops out of school and not be a contributing member to society and the child wouldn’t natured the way it should be because that would probably fall on the teenagers parents to help her take care of the baby. Yet, it could be the opposite but no one should have the right to tell someone else if they can or cannot abort a pregnancy or not.

  19. I have mixed feelings about this post because I do believe the mother’s best intentions were to help her daughter. Being a supportive mother is key to being a great parent. But not educating herself on how highly dangerous this drug could have been, her negligence, could have severely harmed her daughter. That being said this would have never happened if Pennsylvania did not have such strong abortion laws. The mother would have looked for professional help to doctors and hospitals, if that was presented as an option, however that was not the case. She was unaware of the dangerous consequences buying this pill online had, and was oblivious to the penalties by law. I don’ think that the mother deserves to be imprisoned for helping her daughter when the law does not agree. Something that serious should be determined by the mother and daughter only. Will the government step in and tell women when they are allowed to have sex too?

  20. I definitely think it was wrong that they jailed her, and that the DA pressed charges. I think they are letting the laws and society pressure the DA into going with the PA flow of life, which is very strict and doesn’t allow abortion. The mother didn’t intend to buy the drug KNOWING it was illegal and that she would go to jail. She did it to help her daughter out. I just think it’s sad that the DA’s office clearly has NOTHING else to do in PA so we had to put someone in jail for something she didn’t mean to do.

    There was also a comment made about how pregnancy and childbirth is dangerous to 16 year olds, and I don’t really think that’s true. Maturity and income level wise? Sure, its detrimental. But physically, I have really only heard of a few outliers in which the mother was around 16 or 17 and didn’t carry the fetus full term.

    And also, can’t you get the plan B pill like absolutely any pharmacy? Or is it outlawed in PA?

    • Well, I have a cousin who got pregnant at age 16 and her Dr. at the time encouraged her to have abortion because he said that her body hadn’t matured enough for it. She went ahead and have the baby anyway, and baby and mom turned out to be okay. Some girls can get fistulas, though, if their bodies aren’t mature enough. In that case, the birth creates a hole between the vagina and anal wall.

  21. I cant help it but wonder if her daughter gave the consent for getting the pills. I wish their was a statement of her daughter in the article. If this is the real case i blame society for what happened. There should be a comprehensive sex education at schools, easy access to contraceptive methodes, clinics that allow abortions for some cases. Even though I dont support abortions i believe in some cases is understandable; like when the woman gets raped, when the baby faces severe health issues and when the mother’s health is endangered. Other than that i find that you treat a mistake you have made with selfishness and you could give the baby up for adoption instead. Lets not forget that an embryo is a potential person like us with equal oportunities in life.

    • True. But these laws don’t stop abortion, so much as hurt people. We should focus on what actually prevents abortion — things like sex ed, access to birth control (esp long term contraception), not feeling shame in using birth control, hope for the future…

  22. This is really sad, everyone has struggles in life and most family is less fortunate than others. This situation is difficult to support and go against. Being really young and having a child brings a lot of reponsiblity and money involved. The mom wanted to support her daughter choice and find the cheapest way possible. Along with that risking her own daughter life to do it. It sucks that abortion is illegal in that state, the law for it should be changed. What if the daughter was rape by a random stranger? Yes the baby in the whom didn’t do anything but in the future the mother of it might not even love the baby. It’s also wrong that the judge sent the mom to jail. Yes it’s part of the law but over abortion it’s just wrong. Plus as of today the world population is over 7 billion and it’s still growing. In the future everyone will be struggling for resources. Overall from my view the mom should be let go and the states law should change to allow abortion.

  23. I know all life should be respected and precious, but I also think that babies need to be born with happiness and consent. If a baby is born with desperated parents, it is a tregedy for both parents and the baby. That’s why I understand Jennifer’s decision. I am not even sure I’d make the different decision If I were in her place. Her daughter is only 16 years old, which means she is not ready to be a mother. I will make a different decision from her,I am not Although Jennifer violated the law, jail sentence was too rigorous.

  24. Abortion rights are a hard one to remain calm about, for me. I try to remember that opponents have their hearts in a kind place. Opposing abortion is fine, who actively LIKES them, after all? But if you oppose abortion, support condoms and other birth control, don’t oppose clinics! When will we learn (or the rest of us, at least) that outlawing something doesn’t stop it, it just pushes it underground.

    NPR’s series on abortion rights around the world is…traumatic. When they’re talking about El Salvador or India it’s easy to think “well, we’re better of here at least” but… Sigh.

    Oops, sorry, bit of a soapbox there! Hopefully the arc of history is moving in the right direction on this one too…

  25. I often think that the law makers lack sanity and logic…. especially when they introduce any law for women… 😦

  26. I feel like stories like this are a clear reason why abortion clinics should be open to everyone and anyone who is in need. Putting a mother in jail, in my opinion, outweighs any arguments as to why abortion should be illegal. I understand fully the mother put her daughter in some harm by giving her the pill but at the same time the daughter had given her mother consent to do so. With abortion being illegal the young teen is forced to have a kid she is not ready for which could lead her to a state of depression which could gets worse after you lock up the mom. What good is trying to save a life by ,making abbortion illegal when you are potentially ruining 2 other lives. The mothers life, who is now practically ruined since her peers as well as future employers, will look at her differently and judge her. The daughters life, who now has to live without her mother and will possibly have to have this kid whiteout her mother being there. Also the guilt the child could feel knowing her mother is locked up cause of her is not at all worth it. Is it not better to put our resources towards educating instead of incarcerating? If a certain state does not want to legalize abortion, does it not make sense to at least increase efforts to educate the youth to prevent future incidents such as this instead of waiting till they mess up, just to put them through troubles, pr in this case, incarcerate the mother for just trying to help. We can’t blame the mother for trying to do what the government should have already been doing, making her daughters life easier.

  27. Abortions are dangerous. Any form of abortion can be dangerous in the sense that you can have blood clots especially at home procedures such as a pill and even with a surgery. Women should be allowed to do with their bodies as they please, but a minor is the parents responsibility. There are risks and buying a pill online with all the crazy things that are out there is a huge risk. It cannot be taken lightly when dealing with such a choice. It sounds also on the other hand that the mother was trying to protect her daughters privacy and make it as simple as possible by making it an at home kind of thing. I don’t agree that the mother should be in jail. The DA could’ve looked into where she had bought the pill and gone after the company for selling pills online without stating that if there is to be use of their product by a minor that they need to seek professional help. The mother also should have researched the kinds of things her daughter would expierience after taking the drug and what they were getting into. It is not something to be taken lightly and it is saddening that abortion clinics are expensive and unavailable to everyone. Every action has a reaction. Some have consequences and it looks really bad on the mothers part that she didnt educate her self and make an educated decision. If it were my child I would have figured out the money to get her the appropriate care instead of blindly buying a magical pill that appears to be a easy way out. Abortion is serious and needs to be treated that way. Otherwise it becomes second nature and can be something that is not taken seriously and may happen multiple times if teenagers and women arent educated about what it does to your body and your psyche. I think the laws are in place for these reasons however the states need to educate people on the laws so that they are aware and hell all parents and women should look at the laws of the state they live in on this kind of thing. Being aware of what your getting into is the best way to avoid poor decision making.

  28. I personally believe that it shouldn’t be illegal to get abortions. Surely, every woman has her own right to make her own decisions. If you know you can’t support the baby emotionally or financially, it is best to prevent this early before the baby is actually born into a situation of a single mother surviving on food stamps and loose change. It is difficult for both the child and the mother. Abortion will happen, and if it is made illegal, then people would just do it behind the curtains. As the article states, the mother didn’t even know that buying the pill was illegal. But even if she did have the knowledge, I think she would have still bought it illegally to try to help her daughter. Even with the strict abortion laws in Pennsylvania, I’m pretty sure there are people who still still abort secretly. But nonetheless, jailing a mother because she is supporting her daughter seems absurd to me.

  29. Mark Frederick

    Stories like this are somewhat hard to totally support and be against. On one hand the mother was only trying to help and the daughter was doing what was in her best interest, however at the same time the pull could have killed or seriously injured the girl. Jailing the mom was too much in my opinion. This is why legalizing abortion is very crucial to the safety of these women. Statistics show that even when abortion is illegal, the amount of abortions (illegal at this point) doesn’t quite change. Abortions will still be done but when it’s illegal it compromises the safety of the lives of these women. Wouldn’t it be in everyones best interest to have abortion clinics amiable to the masses? It not only keeps women safe but it also produces tax dollars which could help the area. There are many different reasons why people have abortions but safety should always come first.

  30. How traumatic for that young girl! That judge that sent that poor woman to jail is cruel and utterly out of touch with society. Interesting point about the viagra too!

  31. It just goes to show that situations are not clear cut and need to be judged on their own merits. And this too is a good point: Meanwhile, I’m wondering when the DA will start going after men who buy Viagara online, without a prescription.

  32. Totally outrageous!!!!

    A man can go out, commit fraud and embezzlement and SERVE the same amount of time. In some states you can even take a shot at someone and get less time.

    How about giving this poor woman a slap on the wrist and send her home. For the love of everything Holy. What purpose does this really serve? NONE.

  33. I understand that what the mom did was against the law and all, but the LAST thing that poor girl needs is her mom behind bars. To me a fine would have been much more appropriate and a better answer for all involved, but we can’t have common sense, now, can we?

  34. There will always be abortions. People with enough influence and money will always have access. These stupid laws affect the most vulnerable. It’s just so sad.

    I honestly have no problem with people thinking abortion is wrong. I have no problem with people doing their best to convince others of the same. I have a problem with making laws governing people’s bodies and restricting access to safe health clinics.

    I’ve always thought, if religions and pro-lifers did more to help women, to embrace them and show them how motherhood could bring them joy, perhaps many woman would choose to keep their child. So long as they are shamed and their pregnancy treated as punishment, abortions outside of medical necessity will always be desired.

    • I personally don’t like abortion, and wish no one ever needed to get one. But we need to focus on what actually prevents abortion — things like sex ed, access to birth control (esp long term contraception), not feeling shame in using birth control, hope for the future…

      Laws against abortion just lead to tragedies.

  35. “Yet jailing mom endangers her children who are left unsupervised, and who lose their mom’s income.” Precisely. As a culture, our thinking is so enmeshed with the prison-industrial complex that after-the-fact caging of human beings looks like justice. For many–and perhaps for all the people in the chain of decisions that landed Whalen in prison, justice =caging seems so inexorable and immutable an equivalence that other options become unthinkable, and thus unthought.
    I live in PA, and I grieve for this family and all the others trapped by our state’s unjust choices.

  36. This is so sad to read about 😦

    It highlights why there should be legal abortion clinics available to everyone. Just because they are there doesn’t mean everyone has to use it, but for those of us that do, it’s important to have the access.

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