June 27, 2016

New Mexicans, others in abortion debate respond to SCOTUS ruling

United States Supreme Court

After the United States Supreme Court announced Monday that a Texas law that limited where certain abortion procedures could take place was unconstitutional, national abortion rights activists weighed in and praised the court’s decision.

The Supreme Court ruled against the Texas law 5-3.

Whole Woman’s Health is a clinic that provides reproductive medical services in a handful of states across the country, including one in Las Cruces.

Dr. Bhavik Kumar, a doctor with Whole Woman’s Health in Texas, said the decision is a win for Texas.

“By striking down HB 2, the court has relieved one of so many obstacles in the path of justice for Texans and so many others around the country,” Kumar said in a statement on Monday. “My hope is that we never have to travel down this path again and that I as a physician can practice medicine without ideologically driven politics interfering with what is best for my patients.”

When the Texas Legislature passed the law requiring abortion clinics to be run similar to emergency facilities, many shut down and patients reportedly traveled to New Mexico for abortion procedures.

Whole Woman’s Health founder and CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller said limiting the amount of clinics in Texas put a strain on many families.

“For many, the process of obtaining safe and legal healthcare has become an onerous, grueling feat or just flat out impossible,” Hagstrom Miller said.

During a Monday press conference, Hagstrom Miller added that many of the clinics that were forced to close in Texas have a long way to go before they reopen.

“Clinics don’t reopen overnight,” Hagstrom Miller said. “We really have a daunting task ahead of us.”

Tannia Ezparza, the executive director of the Albuquerque advocacy group Young Women United, hailed the decision.

“We celebrate with our neighbors in Texas, and with women and families across the country who are closer to the healthcare and resources needed to make real decisions about their own bodies and lives,” Esparza said.

NM Alliance for Life, a group that advocates against abortions, issued a statement through its executive director Elisa Martinez. She criticized the ruling and said it further puts women at risk by not requiring stricter standards.

“In Albuquerque, the scandal ridden Curtis Boyd late-term abortion center that just received a criminal referral from a congressional investigation, sends women to deliver a dead baby into a hotel room toilet,” Martinez said. “How is this safe for women?”

Martinez said the high court ruling will not deter her group from continuing their mission.

“Despite the ruling today we will continue to fight to protect women and their babies from an unsafe and profit driven abortion industry,” Martinez said.

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., also criticized the decision.

“I am deeply disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision today,” Pearce said in a statement. “This decision will ultimately threaten the safety of both mothers and their unborn children. Defense of life is the most important moral issue of our time, and we can never speak too strongly for those that cannot speak for themselves.”

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., disagreed.

“Today’s decision is an important affirmation of a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “The Texas law would have limited access to safe abortions and created unnecessary barriers and the possibility of unsafe means to terminate a pregnancy. The Supreme Court has ruled and continues to rule that those barriers are unconstitutional.”

Matthew Reichbach contributed reporting on this story.

Update (3:10 p.m.): Added an official statement from Rep. Steve Pearce.