Tag archives: Violence

Unborn Victims of Violence Act Used in Tampa

by Chris Gacek

May 19, 2013

History may have been made last week when federal prosecutors used the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA) to indict a man who is alleged to have killed his own unborn child.  It is quite likely that this is the first use of the UVVA.

The news of this terrible crime spread across the nation after the federal government announced an indictment of John Andrew Welden in Tampa, Florida.  Welden tricked his pregnant girlfriend, Remee Lee, into taking a drug, misoprostol (Cytotec®), which produces abortions in early pregnancy.  Lee was six weeks pregnant and refused to have an abortion as Welden had demanded.

Welden’s father is an obstetrician-gynecologist who performed the ultrasound and blood tests that confirmed Lee’s pregnancy.  (Welden’s father, apparently, was not involved in the crime.)

After confirmation of the pregnancy, John Andrew Welden told Lee that her blood tests revealed that she had an infection.  He gave her a bottle of pills in an orange plastic bottle of the type one receives from a pharmacy.  Welden falsified a label somehow to indicate that the bottle contained amoxicillin and that a prescription from Welden’s father called for her to take the medicine three times daily. 

In fact, the bottle contained misoprostol, the second drug in the RU-486 abortion regimen.  Misoprostol is used primarily to prevent patients who take large quantities of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) from developing ulcers.  Very late in pregnancies it has legitimate obstetrical uses that, roughly speaking, have to do with inducing the delivery of a healthy full-term baby.  However, early, in pregnancies a pregnant woman who takes misoprostol will begin to have uterine contractions that can kill the baby by causing the uterus to expel its contents.

That is what happened in this case.  Lee says she woke up on Easter Sunday in a pool of blood.  The staff at a nearby hospital told her that her baby had died.  It was quickly apparent to these medical professionals that the drug she had been given was not the antibiotic.  Interestingly, Welden had gone so far as to eliminate drug-identifying features from the tablets.  It was quickly determined that she had, in fact, been given misoprostol.

I am not sure how the case developed – optimally this matter would be handled by state authorities who would prosecute the matter.  Unfortunately, Florida law is archaic when it comes to the protection of the unborn.  According to Americans United for Life (see Defending Life 2012), “[u]nder Florida criminal law, the killing of an unborn child after ‘quickening’ (discernible movement in the womb) is defined as manslaughter.”  Prior to quickening, killing an unborn baby is not a crime in Florida.

Remee Lee’s baby was only six week’s old gestationally.  Typically, quickening occurs from weeks 13 to 16.  A manslaughter prosecution would not have been possible in this case.  It may be this fact that brought about the federal government’s involvement. 

 On May 14th a federal grand jury indictment was unsealed against Welden that contained two counts.  Count One charges Welden with tampering with consumer products (18 U.S.C.§ 1365(a)) – in this case, the drugs taken by Remee Lee which relied upon a falsified prescriptive drug label and tablets that were defaced.  Count Two, relying upon the drug tampering, then proceeds to charge Welden with violations of the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act (18 U.S.C.§ 1841) and the federal murder provision (18 U.S.C.§ 1111(a)). 

 The UVVA is a federal act.  Federal jurisdiction in a Florida murder depends on the violation of an underlying federal law.  Typically, this will involve interstate commerce, and, in this case, it is tampering with a consumer product.  That provision is referenced in the UVVA.

 Praise needs to be given to the federal officials involved:  Robert E. O’Neill (U.S. Attorney - Middle District of Florida), W. Stephen Muldrow (Assistant, U.S. Attorney), and A. Lee Bentley, III (First Assistant U.S. Attorney, Chief, Criminal Division – Tampa).

No cheers for the state of Florida which needs to amend its abortion statute.

See the story from the Tampa Bay Times by Patty Ryan and Will Hobson.  Go to this link for a PDF copy of the unsealed indictment.

Anti-Gay Hate and Pro-Gay Terrorism

by Peter Sprigg

October 21, 2011

Two acts of vandalism were committed in recent days against facilities associated with the debates over homosexualityone on each side of the issue.

In Arlington Heights, Illinois, bricks were thrown through the glass doors and windows of the Christian Liberty Academy. That night, the Christian school was to host a banquet put on by Americans for Truth about Homosexuality (AFTAH), a pro-family organization led by Peter LaBarbera. The banquet was to feature presentation of an award to Scott Lively, another pro-family activist who heads Abiding Truth Ministries.

In the other incident, an office door and two display cases of the GLBT Center at North Carolina State University in Raleigh were defaced with spray paint, including an anti-gay epithet.

Both acts of vandalism were contemptible, and Family Research Council (FRC) condemns them both equally. The debates over homosexuality, however emotional they may become, should be carried on peacefully by those on both sides. Physical attacks on people or property are never justified. (Will liberal groups join us in equally denouncing both acts? The Southern Poverty Law Center, which is quick to accuse conservatives of hate, chose to blame the victims, criticizing the attackers in Illinois primarily for [a]dding fuel to a fire started and stoked by anti-gay activists.)

So are there any differences between these two incidents? Yes. There is not the slightest evidence that the spray paint attack at NC State had any connection with any religious or political organization or public policy issue, or that it was perpetrated by anyone other than a lone thug.

In the attack on the Christian Liberty Academy, however, the vandals made clear that their attack was directed specifically at the work of AFTAH and Lively. A note accompanying one of the bricks said, This is just a sample of what we will do if you dont shut down Scott Lively and AFTAH. It followed with obscenities (edited here): F*** Scott Lively and Quit the homophobic s***! The other brick had written directly on it, Shut down Lively.

If that werent bad enough, an anonymous person posted a detailed claim of credit for the attack on the left-wing Chicago Independent Media Center website. It included this declaration:

These chunks of concrete were thrown through these windows and doors for two reasons: to show that there is a consequence for hatred and homophobia in our community and to directly cause this event to be shut down.

(It is bizarre that anyone could think throwing bricks through school windows could be considered a way of combating hatred.)

Were either or both of these incidents hate crimes? In a generic sense, as the term hate crime is typically used, both were hate crimes. Both involved criminal acts, and both were motivated by characteristics of the victims (in the one case, sexual orientation, and in the other, religion, or more specifically religious beliefs in opposition to homosexual conduct).

In the legal sense, however, neither of these fit under the definition of hate crimes that merit federal intervention, according to the 2009 law passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. The new federal hate crimes bill applies only to cases where a person willfully causes bodily injury or attempts to cause bodily injury, so crimes of vandalism directed only at property are not covered.

Some states have their own hate crime laws featuring broader definitions than the federal statute. North Carolina, however, does not include sexual orientation as one of the protected categories in its hate crime law.

Illinois, on the other hand, has a hate crime law that does cover religion as a protected category. It also states explicitly that even an act of misdemeanor criminal damage to property will be treated as a Class 3 felony if it is motivated by bias and takes places on property used for religious purposes (such as the Christian Liberty Academy).

Thus, under current state laws, the North Carolina incident would appear not to be a hate crime, but the Illinois one would be. However, police treatment of the two cases appears to be diametrically opposite of what the law would suggest. Authorities in North Carolina say they are investigating the spray paint attack as a hate incident, while those in Illinois say there was no hate crime because Lively was targeted for his views, not his religion.

While Christian moral teachings are not the only reason to oppose homosexual conduct, does anyone seriously believe that if an African American church were targeted for supporting civil rights protections, or a Jewish synagogue were targeted for giving aid to Israel, it would not be considered a hate crime?

Family Research Council opposes the entire concept of hate crimes, because we believe that criminal laws should punish actions alone, not the personal opinions of those who commit those actions. We hope that both the Illinois and North Carolina incidents will be thoroughly investigated, solved, and prosecuted on that basis.

Nevertheless, the selective application of the hate crime law in Illinois shows that such laws are actually not applied on a neutral basis, but are used primarily when they will advance a politically correct cause, such as the affirmation of homosexual conduct.

While both the Illinois and North Carolina incidents were hateful on their face, there is another factor at work in the attack on Christian Liberty Academy. Those who claimed credit for the attack online said it had a specific goalto directly cause this event [the AFTAH banquet that night] to be shut down (in this they failedthe program went forward as scheduled). They also warned of similar attacks in the future: If this event is not shut down, and the homophobic day trainings [a reference to AFTAHs Truth Academy educational programs] do not end, the Christian liberty academy will continue to be under constant attack.

There is a word for the use of violence to deter others from opposing your political agenda. That word is not just hate, but terrorism.

Some who posted comments under the claim of credit for the Illinois attack condemned it: As a gay man, I cannot condone your actions. Violence is never acceptable. Shockingly, though, a number of the comments actually praised this act of pro-gay terrorism.

Some were mild in their endorsementThese kinds of actions may have their place, and It should be respected. Others, however were downright gleeful: lol those homophobes got served maybe they think twice before bringing fascists to our town again; and, I only wish I could have been there with a truckload of concrete blocks for smashing. Let’s STONE those haters for the criminals they are.

There is such a thing as anti-gay hate. The attack on the GLBT Center at NC State is an example of it, and FRC does not hesitate to condemn it.

Peaceful opposition to demands for official affirmation of homosexual conduct, however, is not hate.

And the terrorism at the Christian Liberty Academy shows that it may be those making such pro-homosexual demands who are guilty of the most hatred toward their opponents.