Abortion Pills, Coercion, and Abuse

COMMENTARY Life

Abortion Pills, Coercion, and Abuse

Dec 1, 2023 7 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Melanie Israel

Visiting Fellow, DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family

Melanie is a Visiting Fellow in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family at The Heritage Foundation.

Across the country, men coerce or even force pregnant women to take pills that induce an abortion. Some of these use abortion pills to cover up abuse. We have no way to know the full scope of this problem. But we do know that this problem will get worse – not better – if pro-abortion policymakers continue to champion the abortion industry at the expense of women’s health and safety.

The Biden administration recently gutted safety protocols on dangerous abortion drugs that had stood for more than 20 years. No longer must a doctor see a woman in-person to rule out life-threatening risks or accurately date a pregnancy. Now the Food and Drug Administration endorses telemedicine abortion and abortion pill-by-mail.

These drugs hurt women and end the lives of thousands of unborn children every year. But the abortion industry isn’t stopping here. The goal isn’t just to treat abortion drugs like any other prescription drug. It’s to make abortion pills available over-the-counter.

Coerced and forced abortions are already happening. And every time safety protocols are degraded, it becomes easier for an unsupportive partner, abuser, or trafficker to harm women, girls, and unborn children. Stories like the ones below will become more common unless policymakers act to stop these tragedies.

 

Real-life Cases

Heritage has compiled publicly documented cases related to abortion pill abuse and coercion. The perpetrators used similar methods: crushing the pill into food and drink, swapping the pill for a different drug, and coercing the victim into taking the pill.

 

Crushed into Food or Drink

Texas 2024

In 2022, Mason Herring was charged with assaulting a pregnant woman and assault-forced induction after repeatedly slipping an abortion drug into his wife’s beverages to forcibly abort their unborn child. She went to the hospital with severe cramping and bleeding. She eventually gave birth to her baby prematurely. The forced induction charge was downgraded to injury to a child. In 2024 Herring was sentenced to 180 days in prison and 10 years probation.

Wisconsin 2022

Jeffrey Smith was sentenced to five years in prison for attempted first degree homicide of an unborn child. He crushed up an abortion pill and put it in his girlfriend’s water bottle. She was about 20 weeks pregnant at the time.

Virginia 2018

Doctor Sikander Imran, a doctor, was sentenced to three years in prison for fetal homicide. He spiked his girlfriend’s tea with an abortion pill. She was 17 weeks pregnant at the time.

Kansas 2015

Scott Bollig was sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit intentional first degree murder for crushing an abortion pill into his girlfriend’s pancakes. She was about 8-10 weeks pregnant when she lost her child.

Wisconsin 2007

Manishkumar Patel was sentenced to 22 years in prison for first-degree intentional homicide after trying to trick his girlfriend into drinking a smoothie spiked with a crushed abortion pill.

abortion pill crushed into powder and poured into a drinkabortion pill crushed into powder and poured into a drink

 

Swapped Pills

Massachusetts 2024

Robert Kawada “was charged with poisoning, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a pregnant person and assault and battery on a household or family member.” Kawada allegedly gave his girlfriend iron and vitamin pills, however at least one pill was actually misoprostol. The victim lost the pregnancy after ingesting the drugs.

Florida 2014

John Weldon was sentenced to 14 years in prison after tricking his girlfriend into taking an abortion pill. She was about 7 weeks pregnant at the time. He forged the signature of his father – a fertility doctor – on a prescription and swapped the abortion pills into a bottled labeled as an antibiotic. 

swapped antibiotic pill for abortion pill

Coerced Consumption and Abuse

Washington 2024

David Coots, a nurse practitioner, was charged with assault, third degree rape, and witness tampering after allegedly forcing a misoprostol pill into a woman’s vagina during sexual intercourse. Coots had led the woman to believe that he was excited about her pregnancy. Coots claimed that he prescribed the misoprostol for himself. The victim was suspicious and sought emergency care, at which point more misoprostol was discovered inside her. After days of bleeding and stomach pain, she was no longer pregnant.

Florida 2023

Haley Raborn was charged with solicitation and attempted murder on an unborn child by injury to the mother, and tampering with/fabricating physical evidence. Raborn allegedly attempted to have the ex-fiance of the victim kill his 11-week old unborn child with an abortion pill. Instead, the ex-fiance turned the pill over to law enforcement. Raborn claimed that she got the pill from an online telemedicine doctor, which is illegal under Florida law.

California 2022

Jagmeet Sandhu was sentenced to a year in jail for involuntary manslaughter. He had held his girlfriend at gunpoint after entering her home while she slept and forced her to take abortion pills, killing her child. She was about 12 weeks pregnant at the time.

Nebraska 2021

Ronald Powell, a high school security guard, was accused of sexually abusing a 15-year old student over the course of several years. And a result, the student became pregnant. According to court records he posed as her father at Planned Parenthood, where she had a chemical abortion.

Connecticut 2016

Sage Lanza, an adult male, had a sexual relationship with a 14-year old victim who became pregnant. He pressured her to have an abortion and made an appointment for her at Planned Parenthood. When she was about two months pregnant, he and his father took her to Planned Parenthood for a chemical abortion. Connecticut does not have parental notification or consent laws for minors seeking an abortion.

New York 2015

Joshua Woodward was sentenced to nine years in prison for attempted murder after giving a woman abortion drugs without her knowledge during a sexual encounter. She had previously refused his request that she have an abortion. The woman was 13 weeks pregnant at the time; Woodward had tried to slip her the drug twice before his third attempt was successful.

 

This list was first published on December 1, 2023. New cases were added on June 7, 2024.

 

What to do


Women and girls deserve better.

Policymakers at the state and federal level must act – but how? For starters, they should:

  • Prohibit telemedicine and mail-order abortions,
  • Strengthen informed consent requirements,
  • Strengthen or enact laws regarding abortion coercion,
  • Strengthen or enact parental consent laws for minors, and
  • Strengthen or laws regarding forced abortion which seek justice for both victims – unborn children and their mothers.

With Roe v. Wade in the dustbin of history, abortion pills are the abortion industry’s answer to undermine pro-life progress. Americans should know that removing commonsense safety protocols will mean even more women and girls will face abuse and coercion. No matter what you think about abortion, everyone should agree that nobody should be coerced or forced to have an abortion against her will. At every level of government, policy should protect women, girls, and unborn children – not abusers.

Additional Resources


Chemical Abortion: A Review

Biden Administration Sanctions Mail-Order Abortion. Here’s How the Move Endangers Women

Biden, FDA Move to Turn Local Pharmacies Into Abortion Clinics

 

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