Change in Pa. laws sought after woman gets jail term for giving daughter ‘abortion pills’

A Montgomery County lawmaker wants to see Pennsylvania reform its abortion laws.

State Sen. Daylin Leach said Wednesday that abortions need to be more accessible and affordable or tragedy will strike.

Leach’s comments come on the heels of a central Pennsylvania woman being sentenced to prison for giving her pregnant daughter pills designed to trigger a miscarriage.

He said the case highlights that things need to change in the commonwealth.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“This woman could have died. You don’t want people taking medications whether they got it over the Internet or whatever. They don’t know what they’re doing,” Leach said.

“We don’t want people doing this kind of thing outside of the supervision of a doctor. We don’t want people in desperate situations,” he continued. “People died from coat-hanger abortions as well. That’s what the protection of the constitutional right is about.”

On Friday, Jennifer Ann Whalen, a single mother from Washingtonville, was sentenced to spend at least a year behind bars for providing “abortion pills” to her teenage daughter.

State law requires that a physician carry out all abortions.

Whalen said she purchased the pill from an online European supplier because her daughter doesn’t have health insurance and lives nearly 80 miles from an abortion clinic.

In Pennsylvania, Medicaid doesn’t cover abortions. Leach said that should change so that others don’t do what the Whalens did.

Montour County prosecutors did not return calls seeking comment.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal