4I’m not Jennifer Whalen, but as a mom I can assume the 38-year-old mother from Washington, Pennsylvania didn’t make the decision to order the abortion medications misoprostol and mifepristone online for her 16-year-old daughter lightly. Having your daughter face an unwanted pregnancy can’t be an easy thing for any mom to go through, and I’m sure Whalen, who is an unregistered nurse, spent a lot of time contemplating this whole thing before she spent 45 dollars on buying the drugs in January of 2012. According to a news item report, Whalen told police she could not find a local abortion clinic and didn’t want to travel out of state with her daughter. She also didn’t know she needed a prescription to purchase the drugs.

On Feb. 6, 2012, her daughter was transported to the Geisinger Medical Center emergency room with abdominal pain. Medical records obtained by police stated she was “treated for an incomplete abortion and a urinary tract infection.” The charges Whalen now faces are for “medical consultation and judgment;” the misdemeanors are for not being licensed as a pharmacist, endangering the welfare of a child, and “simple assault.”   Whalen waived her right to a preliminary hearing. She has been free on 25,000 dollars bail and her arraignment has been set for March.

I’m sure if Whalen could go back in time she would have just taken her daughter to a clinic, but should she have to? If early term medical abortions can be safety administered at home and followup care can be conducted by a doctor then it should be a woman’s choice about how she wants to end her pregnancy. For those women who don’t want to have an abortion in a clinic or hospital they are going to resort to more of these back alley at home DIY procedures, and if they are simply trying to help their daughters they may end up in prison like Whalen probably will. Making medical abortions harder for women to get isn’t going to stop abortions, it’s just going to make women resort to other ways of having them.

Yes, it’s frightening to think Whalen’s daughter may have ended up with worse complications. She is 18 now. Yes, I don’t think administering these drugs without the care of a medical doctor is the best course of action. But I can’t help but feel for this mom, and her daughter, because this couldn’t have been an easy decision for either one of them to go through.

It’s scary when you think that there are many others mothers and daughters in the world making the same decisions, and if they don’t have access to a clinic or medical facility that performs abortions, they are basically forced into making the same choices the Whalens were. Welcome to the new back alley.

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