091821 jw prolife memorial1.jpg

Jonah Martinez, 4, places flowers on a grave marker Saturday during a service sponsored by Abortion Free New Mexico at Sandia Memory Gardens in Albuquerque. A crowd of some 50 abortion opponents turned out to pray at the cemetery in one of over 180 similar services being conducted across the country.

Dial the hotline for the National Abortion Federation, and the first recorded message you will hear features a woman’s voice, asking if the caller is from Texas.

The federation, founded in the late 1970s, recently set up a special hotline for women from Texas looking for legal abortion services after a new law took effect Sept. 1, prohibiting the procedure after cardiac activity is detected in an embryo, or around six weeks of pregnancy.

Neta Meltzer, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, called the new Texas Heartbeat Act a “virtual complete ban,” largely because most women don’t realize they are pregnant as soon as six weeks. She cited Texas’ 24-hour mandatory waiting period as another barrier to women legally ending a pregnancy before a heartbeat is discovered.

Though the law faces numerous challenges by the federal government, providers and advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block it from taking effect this month. Women in Texas are now looking to clinics in other states to procure abortion services — including New Mexico.

The Very Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, an Episcopal priest and president of the National Abortion Federation, said in an interview, “New Mexico and Oklahoma … when Texas does something stupid, those are the first places people turn to. They’re already the places people are going [for abortion].”

Leaders of other abortion rights groups, across the nation and statewide, made similar comments, noting their organizations have been taking more phone calls and making more appointments for Texas women hoping to come to New Mexico for help.

But their options are limited here: The state has only three medical providers that perform surgical abortions, and all are located in Albuquerque: Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains’ Albuquerque Surgical Center, the University of New Mexico’s Center for Reproductive Health and Southwestern Women’s Options.

At least two clinics in the state offer prescription medications that can bring about abortions: a Planned Parenthood site in Santa Fe and the Women’s Reproductive Clinic in Santa Teresa, which announces on its website it’s just one mile from El Paso.

Planned Parenthood operates two other clinics in New Mexico — one in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights and one in Farmington — that offer birth control and other health care options for men and women, but no abortion services.

New Mexico has some of the least restrictive abortion laws in the nation, but there is not wide access to services, especially for women in remote areas of the state.

“The locations and amount of providers are not enough,” said Meltzer, with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

There is a concern patients from Texas eventually could push clinics in this state past their capacity. But, Meltzer said, “we’re not there yet.”

According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 55,000 abortions were performed in Texas in 2019, before the pandemic hit, compared with over 3,800 in New Mexico.

Joan Lamunyon Sanford, executive director of the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, which provides financial and moral support to women undergoing abortion procedures, said her agency began getting phone calls and inquiries from Texas women in late August.

“We are already seeing a steady increase, and we anticipate that is going to continue as more and more people in Texas discover the limits of the new law,” she said.

Eve Espey, chairwoman of the OB-GYN department at the University of New Mexico and founder of its Center for Reproductive Health, said the events of the past few weeks coincide with what’s been happening during much of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier in the pandemic, Texas temporarily put a halt to abortions, deeming them nonessential medical services. “We saw a doubling to tripling” of women coming to New Mexico for abortion procedures, she said.

According to data from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, its New Mexico clinics provided abortions to an average of 8.8 Texas women per week before the new law went into effect. In the first week after it was enacted, they provided abortions for 20 Texas women and have at least 64 more scheduled.

Abortion rights supporters say women traveling to New Mexico from out of state for an abortion will experience additional emotional, physical, mental and financial stress.

They may need to take extra time off of work, find child care, gas up the tank for hundreds of miles of travel and find temporary lodging, said Adrienne Mansanares, chief experience officer for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Those extra burdens add to an already high level of “shame or guilt. They are fearful. You can see terror on people’s faces,” she added.

She said New Mexico’s abortion providers are working to “counteract that feeling of exclusion, shame and guilt that our patients from Texas have felt.”

Espey called the extra travel a “logistical nightmare” for women, especially those who do not have the financial resources to make a long trip.

The Guttmacher Institute, which tracks and reports on abortion data across the globe, reported in a 2019 study about one-fifth of U.S. abortion patients traveled more than 50 miles to obtain an abortion at the closest facility.

Mansanares said those distances may get longer as we see a “migration of people moving further and further away from their home communities to get the care they need,” even when it comes to basic health services.

For instance, she said, if a Planned Parenthood facility in Albuquerque becomes fully booked, a woman who normally seeks health services there might have to drive to a facility in Farmington. And if the one in Farmington has no available appointments, the woman might have to seek services in Colorado.

Mansanares said the situation “is not sustainable. It really is a public health crisis.”

Earlier this year, New Mexico legislators repealed a decades-old and unenforceable law making it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion. That move came amid concerns a more conservative panel of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn or weaken the landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade that prohibits stringent government limits on abortion access.

New Mexico does not have some of the abortion restrictions — such as mandated parental approval for minors or a waiting period — that many other states have.

Tara Shaver, spokeswoman for the anti-abortion organization Abortion Free New Mexico, said she thinks less stringent laws help make New Mexico “the Wild West when it comes to abortion.”

The lack of restrictions “lends our state to being the ‘go to’ place for abortion, especially for women in the surrounding states who are beyond the stage where they can get the procedure in their home state,” she said.

Laws protect people, Shaver said.

“Even if we don’t agree with them, they do serve a purpose,” she said. “It’s not in a woman’s best interest to be encouraged to circumvent her own state’s law to go elsewhere to get a procedure done, to kill a child.”

She said her organization does not judge women who choose to have an abortion but works to provide them with support and resources to get them to reconsider that decision.

Mansanares and other abortion rights leaders said one upside of the Texas Heartbeat Act is the number of contributions they are receiving from people who are “outraged” by the law, which allows citizens to sue health care providers who offer abortions to women who are more than six weeks pregnant.

“So many people are donating to abortion care funds, and that is critical,” she said.

091821 jw prolife memorial2.jpg

Tara Shaver, with Abortion Free New Mexico, passes out flowers Saturday during a National Day of Remembrance service at Sandia Memory Gardens in Albuquerque. A crowd of some 50 abortion opponents turned out to pray at the cemetery in one of over 180 similar services being conducted across the country.

General Assignment Reporter

Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican's city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.

(26) comments

Jim Klukkert

We all have our bad days. I seem to have too many, when like others, I say very negative things that neither further the discussion, nor help resolve our differences.

The topic of abortion seems to be fertile ground for unhelpful comments. Let's all resolve to do better.

Joseph Tafoya

With Hispanics making up 18% of the US Population and having abortions at a rate of 20%, and Blacks are 14% of the US population and having abortions at a rate of 34%, having a combined 54% of all abortion in the US. With these disproportionate numbers wouldn't this be considered a form of racism by genocide? When using the progressive liberal and BLM standards where people of color are being disproportionately shot by police, I guess you could.

Mike Johnson


Khal Spencer

[thumbup] I would like to hear the Progressive response to that. My hunch is more availability of both education and birth control would be a starting Rx.

Jim Klukkert

Khal Spencer- though I will not don the mantle of a Progressive, as a Democratic Socialist, I will offer this:

A socio-economic system that promoted all forms of Justice, including racial, economic, gender and environmental justice, would offer the economic opportunities and support not typically available to most American working people, rural and urban, and particularly in regard to the Hispanics and “Blacks” that Mr. Tafoya for whom is suddenly concerned. Such support might well include universal health care, a vastly improved education system, a guaranteed income, and the freedom to walk the street without being harassed or otherwise violated by agents of the state. Such support would encourage the growth of healthy families and communities, the accumulation of wealth, and a more wholesome and stable social environment.

In a nutshell, that essentially is the “Four Fundamental Freedoms” that people "everywhere in the world" ought to enjoy, as outlined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1941 State of the Union address. Those freedoms are: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear.

So Khal, more availability of both education and birth control is just barely a starting Rx, much more is needed. And before anyone cries ‘Pie in the Sky,’ let me add that these Democratic Socialist goals will only come with much struggle, struggle that will educate many folks, and enhance their collective ability not only to obtain these Freedoms, and also to manage the many new responsibilities that come with Progress.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not share my strong suspicion that Joseph Tafoya’s comments is motivated by his views regarding abortion, rather with any concerns regarding racism or genocide. As such, Sr. Tafoya seeks to score partisan points. Tafoya is an opportunist more concerned for his own narrow political viewpoint, than for the health of his fellows.

Khal Spencer

I think FDR's Four Freedoms are a critical, if not required, part of any healthy democracy. I also suspect such a nation would be able to deal with abortion better than our present situation. Not to mention a host of other negatives that would be minimized under such a situation. If the minority groups that Sr. Tafoya says are over-represented in abortion clinics, its probably not because they love abortions. Its because in some cases, it seems to be the only sane alternative.

Sabine Strohem

Glad we can help, but we shouldn't have to. Shame on Texas.

Khal Spencer

Texas is to women what New Jersey is to gun owners. I wish states would stop the political grandstanding by doing the stupidest thing they can think of. Shame on Texas, but shame on NJ too.

rodney carswell

that is quite an equivalency; makes my head spin, just a bit.

Khal Spencer

Bet it made this lady's head spin, too.


Christie pardons woman arrested under gun law

Gov. Christie on Thursday pardoned a Philadelphia woman who had faced up to five years in prison for bringing into the state a gun that was legally registered in Pennsylvania but not in New Jersey.

Scott Showen

Like I've said before, F*^% Texas.

Pam Walker

Not something to brag about.

Bruce Taylor

We all understand by now the travesty of the Texas law on human and women's rights. We all understand that at 6 weeks, most women have only been aware of the actuality of a pregnancy by about two weeks with no understanding at all for the viability, much less all the other considerations. We all know where such stultifying denial of rights stems. Now, New Mexico, we can step up to make sure that this state welcomes its Texas neighbors affected by this malicious denial of rights and health. We can support women who choose to make the trip, but for whom it may be a considerable hardship. We may be able to provide support for transportation, temporary housing, other support for those in need. Our chance to do something close to home to protect the rights of our neighbors.

Mike Johnson

Exactly, this is how NM can be #1 in abortions. The City of Santa Fe should offer free room and board for the pregnant people and their significant others who may accompany them. They should be housed in the best hotels, or maybe the Mayor's and Governor's residences (and maybe volunteers like you), and eat only at the best restaurants, like Geronimo, Coyote Cafe, etc. Transportation should be provided by the Mayor and Governor's staff, and free airline tickets should be arranged. This should all be paid for by a new spending bill introduced in the upcoming legislative session, and a new tax to pay for all this could be levied on any Texans who travel here or have vacation homes and property, so us NM taxpayers do not foot the huge bill. Simple, NM, your abortion destination! Oh, and all this should be advertised with a huge campaign on Texas TV and radio stations, and newspapers too.

Stan Biderman

It’s is a woman’s body and must be her decision not anyone else.

Mike Johnson

This is good news. Maybe NM can be #1 in something now, abortions.....[lol]

Carolyn DM

"...cardiac activity"!! LMAO!! At 6 weeks, an embryo is merely a zygote with still dividing cells and the size of a grain of rice. It has no, "cardiac activity"! That's the difference between grasping science and being brainwashed by the Right's fake Christianity and pro-birtherism. They're not the least bit pro-life in that they don't give a cr@p about humans after they're out of the womb and can no longer be controlled!

Khal Spencer

Um, just for the record:

"...six weeks after conception, your baby's lower limb buds take on the shape of paddles. Fingers have begun to form. Small swellings outlining the future shell-shaped parts of your baby's ears develop and the eyes become obvious. The upper lip and nose have formed. The trunk and neck begin to straighten.

By the end of this week, your baby might be about 1/2 inch (11 to 14 millimeters) long from crown to rump — about half the diameter of a U.S. quarter."


Comment deleted.
Mike Johnson


Comment deleted.
Khal Spencer

I'm not pro or con about abortion, but like climate or anything else, prefer to get the actual FACTS on the table.

My main concern with keeping Government out of abortion is that it is a complicated, fraught subject and not easily dealt with by ham handed politicians and their lobbyist friends. As David French has stated several times on his Dispatch site, the actual abortion rate is far lower now than when Roe v Wade was decided. Abortion is better addressed with human decency rather than the brute force of law, often written by turkeys.

Comment deleted.
Khal Spencer

Jim is usually more nuanced than that. I didn't see his comment.

Comment deleted.
Jim Klukkert

Koyama's inability to understand and accept principled criticism leads to her immature response that I "got all hurt" when I criticized her most unhelpful insults. Koyama obviously is not interested in anything beyond sowing division, rather than bridging the divides that challenge this world.

Sad, but an understandable pattern that follows decades of conservative vitriol.

Jim Klukkert

Since Emily Koyama has raised the issue of the tone of my comments, for everybody's edification, here is the text of my earlier comment. Please let me know if you see this as "Klukkert got all hurt."

Emily Koyama-

The above comment on Angel Ortiz’s post is nothing but a personal attack, quite clearly are implying that Ms. Ortiz regards the unborn as just so much “ground chuck.” Your choice of words is disgusting and offensive, and in no way advances this discussion. Your personal attack merely disparages Ms. Ortiz’s character.

As your comment is a personal attack, specifically an insult, that falls outside the bounds of the SFNM community guidelines, it should be removed from this page as abuse.

As should my earlier response, see below, to your snarky, sarcastic comment.

Thanks, Ms. Koyama, and all the best,

Jim Klukkert

With snarky, sarcastic remarks comparing the unborn to "just so much ground chuck to you," it would be a wonder if you have friends.

So Emily, do you have friends?

Carolyn DM

"...cardiac activity". LMAO!! A zygote, the size of a grain of rice, does not have any, "cardiac activity"!! The cells are still dividing at 6 weeks. That's the difference between knowing science and being brainwashed by the Right's fake Christianity!!

Margaret Eyler

A zygote is .1mm, smaller than a grain of rice. Human cells “divide” long into adulthood. “LMAO” at YOUR lack of “knowing science”, Carol.

The only “fake Christianity” I see in this article is being practiced by the Most Very Reverant Whatever Priestess of the Episcopal Church.

Jim Klukkert

I am pretty sure that taking the level of this discussion down to insults, qualifies as "abuse" under the SFNM guidelines. Margaret Eyler's comments alleging “fake Christianity” being practiced by, in Eyler's words, "the Most Very Reverant Whatever Priestess of the Episcopal Church" should immediately be stricken from this community forum.

The comments of Ms. Eyler seek only to demean, denigrate, and divide. Such efforts do nothing to further our understanding, nor to move this discussion forward.

Please Ms. Eyler, try to make positive contributions, as that is what is needed!

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Santafenewmexican.com. Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.