A Pennsylvania mother has been sentenced to serve 12 to 18 months in prison for ordering abortion-inducing medication online to help her daughter terminate a pregnancy.
Jennifer Ann Whalen, a nursing home aide, pleaded guilty last week to violating a Pennsylvania law that makes it illegal for anyone other than a physician to perform an abortion after authorities charged her with helping her teenage daughter terminate a pregnancy at home.
As reported by Tara Murtha, Whalen bought the pills from an overseas online pharmacy in January 2012 and later gave them to her daughter who had become pregnant but did not want to continue the pregnancy.
Two weeks after taking the medication, Whalen’s daughter experienced severe abdominal pain. Whalen took her daughter to the local hospital where both Whalen and her daughter admitted to doctors that the teen took the pills. A doctor at the hospital then called the police and in December 2013 prosecutors charged Whalen for illegally performing an abortion.
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Pennsylvania law also requires that people under 18 obtain parental approval before receiving an abortion.
Whalen, according to reports, told authorities she ordered the pills online because they could not find a local clinic to perform an abortion for her daughter and the teenager had no health insurance. Whalen lives in Washingtonville, a small rural community in central Pennsylvania located in Montour County, the smallest county in the state.
As Murtha wrote: “The closest clinic to her home was in Harrisburg, about 75 miles away. A state-mandated 24-hour waiting period would mean Whalen and her daughter would have had to make the drive twice, or they would have had to stay overnight in the Harrisburg area.”
In addition to serving up to 18 months in prison, Whalen was fined $1,000 and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service after her release.