Federal prosecutors are charging a Florida man with a violation of a rarely used federal law called the “Protection of Unborn Children Act,” 18 U.S.C. 90A. John Andrew Weldon tricked his girlfriend into taking a labor-inducing drug called misoprostol, which is routinely dispensed in combination with another drug, mifepristone, to cause abortions.
The Act makes it a criminal violation to
engage[ ] in conduct that violates any of the provisions of [certain existing federal criminal] law . . . and thereby causes the death of, or bodily injury (as defined in section 1365) to, a child, who is in utero at the time the conduct takes place . . . .
Abortion, although an intentional act meant to cause the death of a child in utero, is not a criminal act under this section because of a provision included within the Act:
(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit the prosecution –
(1) of any person for conduct relating to an abortion for which the consent of the pregnant woman, or a person authorized by law to act on her behalf, has been obtained or for which such consent is implied by law;
(2) of any person for any medical treatment of the pregnant woman or her unborn child; or
(3) of any woman with respect to her unborn child.