A St. Louis, MO, woman pleaded guilty on Tuesday to threatening to blow up a Planned Parenthood facility, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Three years ago, the same woman, Maria E. Terry, 47, broke the windows of a Planned Parenthood clinic in the city.
Terry pleaded guilty to violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act and transmitting a threatening communication over the internet.
Her horrifying threat, made over Twitter in November 2018, read, “I’m gonna blow Up ALL YOUR FACILITIES AND CUT THE EYES OUT OF YOUR DOULAS,” according to the Riverfront Times.
Now, Terry faces up to five years in prison.
From the Post-Dispatch:
As part of her plea agreement, she admitted she was intending to make a threat and hoped to intimidate people seeking access to or providing health care services including abortions through Planned Parenthood.
Terry faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. She faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for transmitting the threat online.
In 2015, after Terry broke the windows of a St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic by throwing rocks, she was charged with felony property damage and resisting arrest, and sentenced to three years probation.
In the past, she has also pleaded guilty to third-degree assault of a police officer and stalking.
“Today’s guilty plea is an important one,” U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen said in a statement. “The Department of Justice takes violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act extremely seriously.”
Threats against abortion clinics experienced a brief peak over the past few years. The 2016 National Clinic Violence Survey found that anti-abortion violence was higher rate in than it had been in 20 years. That year, 34.2 percent of abortion providers reported “severe threats of violence,” up from 19.7 in 2014. This rise is largely blamed on the series of misleadingly edited videos that emerges in 2015 featuring hidden camera recording of abortion clinics. The 2018 survey found that numbers of severe violence had decreased, but 52 percent of clinics still reported experiencing some form of targeted harassment and threats.
“After [Trump’s 2016] elections, we uncovered more than three times the negative commentary... in terms of online speech,” National Abortion Federation president Vickie Saporta told NBC News. “When people post things like ‘we should murder all abortion providers,’ we consider that negative commentary. But if they say ‘Doctor so-and-so deserves to be killed,’ that’s a direct threat that we would turn over to law enforcement.”
President Trump and Republicans continue to use alarming and medically inaccurate language to describe abortion. This year, Trump has repeatedly said that pro-choice Democrats “support infanticide.” At a rally in February, Trump accused Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam of supporting “executing babies.”