BR.lifemarch.012719 300.jpg (copy)

Foreground, from left, John Hall of Baton Rouge, Vicky Zawadzki of Jefferson, La., and Deacon Rod Fonseca of New Orleans carries signs as they march down Fourth Street, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 during the Louisiana Life March South, which began near the State Capitol gardens and finished with a program at Galvez Plaza on North Boulevard. 

On the same day the Alabama legislature passed a restrictive bill that would almost entirely outlaw abortion in that state, a House committee in Baton Rouge easily passed a bill that would ban abortions in Louisiana once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

There were no objections to the bill which would outlaw abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy — before many women discover they are pregnant — from the House Health and Welfare Committee, which comprises nine Republicans and seven Democrats.

State Sen. John Milkovich, who has said he supports outlawing abortion, said his bill was supported by “undisputed scientific fact,” that a person is formed the instant “the 23 chromosomes of the father unite with the 23 chromosomes of the mother.”

The bill does not include exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother, which Amy Irvin, New Orleans Abortion Fund executive director, called “a horribly cruel admission.”

In her testimony against the bill, she recalled a Senate committee meeting where lawmakers originally passed an amendment that would have carved out exceptions for rape and incest but repealed it, once Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life (LARTL), said the group opposed it.

“I ask this committee: Who is this legislative body representing — the people who fund your reelection campaign or the women of this state?” Irvin said.

Jennifer McCoy returned to the State Capitol to testify again for Milkovich’s bill. Last month, her appearance attracted attention when it was discovered she served 30 months in prison for conspiracy to commit arson at two Virginia abortion clinics.

McCoy, who was then 24, was convicted of unsuccessfully attempting to set fire to the clinics within a three-month period in the 1990s.

“The other side Googled my name and then came up with all these things,” McCoy said, saying that while she did “plead guilty to conspiracy” and serve time in prison, that the laws used were later overturned and deemed “unconstitutional.”

McCoy proceeded to say that while in prison, she was in frequent contact with Mother Teresa and that the two worked together to help convince an inmate not to have an abortion, linking with her to a family looking to adopt.

“If there’s any questions about that, the attack on my character, that’s all I can say to answer that back,” McCoy said.

In a 2016 interview, McCoy told Vice she “absolutely” did not regret the attempted fires. In the committee, she did not comment on her reported connections to Scott Roeder, who killed Dr. George Tiller, a doctor who provided abortions, a decade ago.

The bill now heads to the House floor, where it is expected to pass. From there, it would go to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

At the attorney general’s suggestion, the bill contains a component tying it to a similar law Mississippi passed in March. The law would only go into effect if the Fifth Court of Appeals upheld the law.

Proceedings are expected to begin in the Mississippi’s federal Southern District Court this month and are estimated to cost the state more than $1 million.

Follow Kaylee Poche on Twitter: @kaylee_poche