This woman was convicted of trying to burn abortion clinics, but this Louisiana committee let her testify

Women protesting a state's "Heartbeat Bill." Photo by Becker1999, license Attribution 2.0 via Flickr

When the Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee voted Wednesday to advance legislation that bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, the bill’s sponsor, Democratic State Senator John Milkovich (who’s also an anti-vaxxer) brought a controversial guest to testify, Mother Jones reports.

Jennifer McCoy, who spent nearly three years in prison for conspiracy to commit arson at two abortion clinics in the 1990s, testified that a New Orleans abortion clinic told her falsely that she was pregnant and scheduled an abortion she says she didn’t need. That, she said, is why she supported the heartbeat bill.

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“If they had been made to show a real-time ultrasound, it would have been a whole lot harder for them to fake the fact that I wasn’t pregnant and tell me that I was,” she said.

But what’s disturbing about this isn’t just the fact that this woman spent time in prison; she’s also connected to Scott Roeder, who murdered abortion provider George Tiller in 2009. She visited him often in jail, Mother Jones reports.

She said she made it clear to the FBI that she planned to visit Roeder in jail.

“I told them that they better have a dang good reason if they come ask me any questions and that I had every intention of going to visit and talk to him,” said McCoy, who also attended his preliminary hearing in July 2009. “I didn’t know him before, but now I have no problem visiting him.”

While she did refer to her time in jail by saying “twenty-three years ago it is true that I did plead guilty to conspiracy and I did serve two-and-a-half years,” she never mentioned abortion clinics were her specific target.

Some found her testimony appalling, The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) reports.

“It is both telling and shameful that lawmakers invited a convicted conspiring clinic arsonist and unapologetic advocate for the justifiable murder of abortion providers to speak on behalf of this bill, said duVergne Gaines, director of the Feminist Majority’s National Clinic Access Project. “McCoy employed domestic terror to further her political goal, threatening the lives of countless innocent people. This is the person Louisiana lawmakers are now looking to for guidance? It speaks volumes about their position on ‘life.'”

But Gaines concerns fell on deaf ears and the Louisiana Committee unanimously passed the bill, which now only needs the approval of the Louisiana House and the governor in order to pass.

For some women, this bill poses dire consequences, Amy Irwin, Executive Director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund told the committee.

“Low-income women, women of color, rural women, and women who are abused or assaulted will suffer the brunt of this ban,” she said. “It will force women seeking abortion services back into dangerous, desperate situations, reviving the public health crisis that existed before Roe v. Wade.”

While it’s appalling that the state legislature would listen to the concerns of a woman who was willing to burn down abortion clinics, it’s also appalling that a Democrat sponsored this law. Is it time for Milkovich to retire?

Featured image by Becker1999, license Attribution 2.0 via Flickr