Mother Arrested for Giving 16-Year-Old Daughter Abortion Pills Bought Illegally

The mother of a teenager who found herself with an unwanted pregnancy is charged with helping her daughter have an abortion at home, with illegally obtained drugs from abroad. Jennifer A. Whalen, 38, claims she did not know that she needed to have a prescription for the drugs and that her daughter needed to be seen by a doctor.

The abortion took place in 2012, but Whalen was not arrested until earlier this week, after an investigation into the matter was concluded. Doctors became aware of the situation when Whalen brought her daughter to the Geisinger Medical Center two weeks after administering the pills. The girl was treated for "an incomplete abortion and a urinary tract infection."

(Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)A pregnant woman touches her stomach as people practice yoga on the morning of the summer solstice in New York's Times Square June 20, 2012.

Whalen told police that she could not find a local abortion provider and did not want to travel out of state to get her daughter the procedure. Instead, she ordered a drug package online, which consisted of Misoprostol and Mifepristone, two common abortive agents, for $45. The drugs are meant to be used under the supervision of a doctor because they can have adverse side effects and cause incomplete abortions, which pose great risks to the patient.

"It's just completely irresponsible to buy something online like that without any guidance," Dr. Lucy Corbin told WNEP. "All the side effects that could be with the baby and with the mother. What if the baby did survive then? I don't even want to think about it. Until you get that pill, you don't know what's in it. Look at the complications she had. She had to end up going to a doctor anyway so she should have went there first."

Whalen has been charged with one federal count of "medical consultation and judgment" as well as misdemeanors of not being licensed as a pharmacist, endangering the welfare of a child, and simple assault. She waived her right to an initial hearing and remains free on $25,000 bail and will next appear in court for arraignment in March.