October 19, 2007 / 9:39 PM / 12 years ago

Texan gets 40 years for abortion bombing attempt

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A Texas man who earlier pleaded guilty to the attempted bombing of an Austin health clinic where abortions were performed was sentenced on Friday to 40 years in prison, officials said.

Paul Evans, 27, left a nail-packed bomb in the parking lot of the Austin Women’s Health Center on April 25, but it failed to go off.

Prosecutors have not disclosed why he wanted to bomb the clinic, but the Austin American-Statesman said Evans admitted in court on Friday he wanted to harm abortion providers.

“I never meant for anyone, except for the abortionists, to get hurt,” Evans told U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks.

“I obviously have a lot of beliefs and honestly, if I had that day to do over again, I would change everything about it,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Sparks gave Evans the maximum 40-year sentence he faced after pleading guilty to the crime in July in a plea bargain with prosecutors.

Evans was linked to the bomb through purchases he made at stores in Austin and Lufkin, Texas, and was arrested on April 27. He had previous convictions for aggravated robbery and burglary, officials said.

“In America we are free to think and believe as we wish but no one has the right to force their beliefs on others through the use of fear, intimidation and violence,” U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton said in a statement.

The National Abortion Federation, which tracks violence against abortion providers, said Evans’ attempted bombing was the only “major attack” against an abortion clinic this year.

It said 41 abortion clinic bombings have occurred in the last 20 years, with the last one reported in 2001.

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