Protest ABQ’s Response To SCOTUS Decision And Its Implications On New Mexico

Protest ABQ’s Response To SCOTUS Decision And Its Implications On New Mexico

“While the SCOTUS decision undermines the good work of the pro-life community in Texas; in New Mexico, the late term abortion capital of the nation, the door still remains open to pass constitutional legislation regulating third trimester abortion facility Southwestern Women’s Options. We are determined to keep pressing forward and to make every effort to protect both mom and baby.” Tara Shaver, Spokeswoman for Protest ABQ 
Here is an analysis by Protest ABQ’s chief leading counsel on the ruling handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court:
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By Angelo Artuso, Chief Legal Counsel for Protest ABQ 
Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, issued yesterday, June 27, 2016, in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, while disappointing is not as sweeping as the media and pro-abortion advocates would have you believe.  Significantly, the decision appears to apply only to the regulation of “pre-viability” abortions.  As the age of viability continues to move closer to conception, the legal framework put in place by Roe v. Wade and its progeny is still on a collision course with itself.

The Hellerstedt Decision

In Hellerstedt, the Court considered two Texas statutes enacted as House Bill 2 (H.B. 2).  The first statute required that “[a] physician performing or inducing an abortion . . . must, on the date [of service], have active admitting privileges at a hospital . . . located not further than 30 miles from the abortion facility.”  This was known the “admitting privileges requirement.”

The second statute required that an abortion facility must meet the minimum standards for ambulatory surgical centers under Texas law.  This was known as the “surgical-center requirement.”

The District Court held that both of these requirements “imposed” an “undue burden” on the right of women in Texas to seek “previability” abortions.

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the District Court and ruled that H.B. 2 was constitutional under current Supreme Court rulings regarding the regulation of abortions and abortion facilities.

The Supreme Court, by a vote of 5-3, reversed the Fifth Circuit and held that H.B. 2 is unconstitutional.
As always, however, the devil is in the details.  In reaching its conclusion, the Supreme Court relied on Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 878 (1992) which held that an undue burden exists on “a woman’s right to decide to have an abortion, and consequently a provision of law is constitutionally invalid “if the ‘purpose or effect’ of the provision ‘is to place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability . . . . Casey added that ‘[u]nnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion impose an undue burden on the right.’”  (Emphasis added).

As part of its decision in Hellerstedt the Supreme Court noted that there were no “legislative findings” attached to H.B. 2.  The Court felt that this was a significant weakness.  “[T]he relevant statute here does not set forth any legislative findings.  Rather, one is left to infer that the legislature sought to further a constitutionally acceptable objective (namely, protecting women’s health).”  The Supreme Court further noted that in the absence of legislative findings, the District Court may give significant weight to the evidence, without usurping the function of the legislature.

Unfortunately, the evidence produced in the District Court showed the following:

A.     Prior to H.B. 2, there were 40 licensed abortion facilities in Texas.  That number dropped by almost half after the admitting privileges requirement went into effect.

B.    If the surgical-center requirement were to go into effect, then only 7 or 8 facilities would exist in Texas.  Over 1,200 women per month could be seeking appointments at each remaining facility.

C.    The requirements “erect a particularly high barrier for poor, rural, or disadvantaged women.”

D.      Abortion as regulated by the State before H.B. 2 was passed has been shown to be much safer in terms of minor and serious complications, than many common medical procedures not subject to the regulations, such as colonoscopies, vasectomies, endometrial biopsy, and plastic surgery.

E.     Risks are not appreciably lowered for patients who undergo abortions at ambulatory surgical centers as compared to non-surgical center facilities.

F.     Women will not obtain better care or experience, or more frequent positive outcomes at an ambulatory surgical center as compared to a previously licensed abortion facility.

G.    The cost of coming into compliance with the surgical-center requirement for existing clinics is approaching $1 million and most likely will exceed $1.5 million with some clinics unable to comply due to physical size limitations of their current sites.  The cost of acquiring land and constructing a new compliant clinic will likely exceed $3 million.

Based on this evidence, the District Court concluded that H.B. 2 did not offer sufficient medical benefits to women to justify the additional restrictions on abortion providers or abortion facilities.  The Supreme Court agreed.  “We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes.  Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access … and each violates the Federal Constitution.” (Emphasis added).

New Mexico Implications:

As it turns out, there are some implications of the Hellerstedt decision for New Mexico.

Most significantly, the Hellerstedt decision strongly implies that requiring ambulatory surgical center licensing and physician admitting privilege of third trimester abortions is Constitutional.  Protest ABQ currently has a complaint on file with the New Mexico Department of Health asking the Department to investigate why the late-term abortion mill in Albuquerque, Southwestern Womens Options, does not have either medical clinic or ambulatory surgical center licensing.  Fortunately, the Hellerstedt decision has done nothing to affect that Complaint.  

In addition, the Court in  Hellerstedt noted that before H.B. 2 was passed, Texas law placed several restrictions on abortion facilities, including:

  1. Annual reporting and recordkeeping requirements;
  2. Quality assurance program requirements:
  3. Personnel policies and staffing requirements;
  4. Physical and environmental requirements;
  5. Infection control standards;
  6. Disclosure requirements; p
  7. Patient-rights standards: and
  8. Medical and clinical services standards, including anesthesia standards.

These requirements were policed by both random and announced inspections at least annually, as well as providing administrative penalties, injunctions, and civil and criminal penalties.

Many of these requirements are not currently part of New Mexico law.  Indeed, abortion facilities in this State operate in a virtually regulatory-free environment, to the detriment of women’s health.  There may be fertile ground here, therefore, for pro-life advocates to propose similar pre-H.B. 2 regulations here in New Mexico to hold abortion providers and abortion facilities more accountable for their unseemly trade.

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New Mexico Baby Body Parts Scandal Timeline Recap

New Mexico Baby Body Parts Scandal Timeline Recap

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July, 18, 2015 Protest and Press Conference sponsored by Protest ABQ
Protest ABQ’s TIMELINE RECAP:
July 14, 2015 – The Center for Medical Progress released the first of a series of groundbreaking undercover video exposing the illegal trafficking of human body parts.
July 15, 2015 – Protest ABQ issued a press release calling on New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and NM Attorney General Hector Balderas to launch an investigation into SWO and UNM based on two consent forms obtained by Protest ABQ revealing the practice of baby body part harvesting in New Mexico.

Read press release here: Are NM Abortion Clinics Harvesting Body Parts? Protest ABQ Demands An Investigation

July 17, 2015 – Protest ABQ holds protest and press conference calling for an investigation by the NM Attorney General’s office and also urged Governor Susana Martinez to encourage such an investigation.

Protest recap:#PPSellsBabyParts Protest and Press Conference

July 28, 2015 – Protest ABQ announced that a formal criminal complaint had been filed with NM Attorney General, Hector Balderas at the #WomenBetrayed Rally hosted by Protest ABQ (sponsored nationally by Students for Life of America) in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

More here:Anti-abortion groups want probe of fetal tissue disposition in N.M.

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(Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

August 20, 2015 – Protest ABQ hosts #ProtestPP the largest protest of Planned Parenthood in New Mexico (over 600) and across the country (over 77,000). During the press conference Tara Shaver, Spokesperson for Protest ABQ spoke to the fact that, 5 state governors have de-funded Planned Parenthood and 13 states have launched criminal investigations into Planned Parenthood’s baby body part for profit scheme. All the while New Mexico fully funds abortion through state Medicaid with our tax dollars and abortion facilities are telling patients that their babies remains may be used in medical research which violates New Mexico law.

Full report:Largest Protest Of Planned Parenthood EVER in New Mexico and Across USA

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(Picture from the ABQ Journal)
October, 2015 – In October Protest ABQ decided to take our Protest presence to the next level in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Late-Term Abortion Capital of America by holding a weekly protest at Planned Parenthood each Saturday morning.
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In addition, in October we stepped up our Protest presence during our weekly #ProtestPP by stepping off of the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood and into the neighborhood surrounding Planned Parenthood.
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October 10, 2015 – #ProtestPP Round 2: ADF Attorney and local Pastor to Speak at #ProtestPP Round 2
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January 26, 2016 – Protest ABQ under the umbrella ministry banner, Life Ministries U.S. presented 5 years of investigative research to legislators in Santa Fe New Mexico.

Full report: Presentation to Legislators: Inside New Mexico Reproductive Health Clinics

February 11, 2016 – U.S. House Select Committee announces subpoenas issued to UNM and SWO.

Related: EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: UNM Publicly Silent, Privately Scrambling in response to U.S. House Panel Investigation

February 12, 2016 – Protest ABQ submitted documentation, compiled over 5 years of research, to the U.S. House Select Committee in line with their scope of authority to review, such as “medical procedures and business practices used by entities involved in fetal tissue procurement and practices of providers of second and third trimester abortions.”

Related: Dispute arises in fetal parts inquiry

April 7, 2016 – Pro-Abortion House Democrats issued a complaint asserting that the U.S. Select Committee “Investigation Is Being Fueled By Additional ‘Documentation’ From Anti-Abortion Extremists Known As Protest ABQ.”

April 11, 2016 – April 11, 2016 – Media Matters (which is directly funded by Democracy Alliance and organized by George Soros) lamented that, “Protest ABQ is the latest anti-choice group feeding misinformation to Republicans on the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives.”

More here: What Media Should Know About The Anti-Choice Group Protest ABQ

April 23, 2016 – National Protest Continue: Protest ABQ hosts #ProtestPP in Albuquerque in conjunction with other National Organizations across the country.

Protest Recap: Pro-lifers Protest Albuquerque Planned Parenthood by Monte Harms

March 24, 2016 – Protest ABQ Drops Post cards exposing UNM and their complicity with SWO and the baby body parts scandal exposed by the U.S. House investigation.

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Reinforcements Arrive: House Panel Issues Criminal Referral to NM Attorney General

Reinforcements Arrive: House Panel Issues Criminal Referral to NM Attorney General

(Pictured Above- Protest and Press Conference, July 17, 2015: Demanding Answers regarding SWO consent form indicating baby body part harvesting and their ties to UNM)

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE PRESS CONFERENCE

By Tara Shaver

Albuquerque, NM- On June 23, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives Select Investigative Panel issued a criminal referral to New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas with evidence that the University of New Mexico (UNM) and late term abortion facility Southwestern Women’s Options (SWO) may be in violation of local and federal law. Protest ABQ would like to thank the U.S. House Select Committee for their actions to hold the out of control and unregulated abortion cartel accountable in New Mexico. This has been an accumulation of the efforts of the collective pro-life community in New Mexico including New Mexico Alliance for Life as well as national pro-life groups such as, Operation Rescue. Protest ABQ is grateful that we have been able to contribute to this effort.

Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue issued the following statement: “This recommendation of criminal charges against UNM and Southwestern Women’s Options is the fruit of years of research and hard work done by a tenacious community of pro-life activists. Seeing the fruit of that labor makes this a great day for us. All that’s left now is for law enforcement to read them their rights and take them away!”

This referral comes 11 months after Protest ABQ filed a formal complaint based on SWO’s 2012 and 2015 consent forms which exposed that donating fetal tissue was mandatory for all abortion patients. Documents obtained by the House Panel’s investigation reveal that in November 2015, shortly after Protest ABQ publicized that we had obtained their 2015 consent form, SWO updated the form to make fetal tissue donation optional (page 291).

After finally obtaining numerous documents through subpoenas from the University of New Mexico and Southwestern Women’s Options, it was determined by the panel that 42 U.S.C. § 289g-2, a federal statute which forbids the transfer of fetal tissue for valuable consideration caused major concerns in light of a close symbiotic relationship between the two entities. In addition to the New Mexico statute cited in the Panel’s letter to Attorney General Balderas, Protest ABQ’s criminal complaint has asked the Attorney General to investigate whether UNM and SWO are in violation of New Mexico’s Maternal, Fetal and Infant Experimentation Act, NMSA § 24-9A-1, et seq.

In a press release from Rep. Marsha Blackburn it was stated that, “Through its investigation, the Panel has discovered that personnel within UNM’s hospital and medical school have aggressively engaged in expanding abortion in New Mexico through the offices, personnel, and resources of UNM.” Highlighted activities by the panel include that UNM personnel, “expanded UNM”s role in training new abortion doctors” which has been ongoing since UNM’s involvement with the Ryan Residency Training Program. This program requires that residents practice performing abortions at various locations including Planned Parenthood and Southwestern Women’s Options, facts which the panel mentions in it’s plethora of findings. Members of Protest ABQ exposed this arrangement back in 2011.

Bud Shaver, Executive Director of Protest ABQ issued the following statement,

“Since 2011 members of Protest ABQ have worked to expose and connect the dots between Albuquerque abortion killing centers: University of New Mexico, Southwestern Women’s Options and Planned Parenthood. Findings have been submitted to the state’s highest authorities and investigations into unlawful and unethical conduct have been requested.

Protest ABQ and the pro-life community are grateful that the U.S. House Select Panel took the initiative to delve into the New Mexico abortion cartel and has referred it’s findings to the New Mexico Attorney General, Hector Balderas. Balderas should be ahead of the curve since Protest ABQ filed a formal complaint with his office 11 months ago. He now has more information to build his case and to move forward in a timely manner and we urge him to do so.”

Local Impact

The citizens of New Mexico have been concerned for many years about the use of state tax dollars that pay for abortions against their will and conscience. This fact should be a driving motivation for New Mexico’s Attorney General Balderas to conduct a thorough investigation into New Mexico’s abortion industry.

Documents obtained from the Select House Panel’s investigation further reveal that since 2010 New Mexico tax dollars have paid over 5 million dollars to Late-Term abortion killing center, Southwestern Women’s Options!  New Mexico Medicaid is directly funding the New Mexico Abortion Cartel. 

“New Mexico Medicaid and SCI Reimbursements Received by Southwestern Women’s Options, 2010-2015” page 159

2015- 880,782.14
2014- 504,220.68
2013- 799,972.28
2012- 963,850.43
2011- 938,635.82
2010- 974,054.47

Total New Mexico Tax Dollars from 2010-2015: 5,061,515.82

Protest ABQ is encouraging New Mexico Republican Governor, Susana Martinez, Lt. Governor John Sanchez, Albuquerque Republican Mayor Richard Berry along with all of the GOP leadership of New Mexico to urge New Mexico AG Hector Balderas to act upon the U.S. Republican House Committee’s criminal referral. Protest ABQ submitted its formal complaint to Balderas almost a year ago, and it appears that the U.S. Congress is backing us up!

Fr. Stephen Imbarrato: The Protest Priest of Priests for Life issued the following statement:

“I have been involved in New Mexico pro-life activism for the last 6 years as Tara Shaver of Protest ABQ and more recently Elisa Martinez of New Mexico Alliance for Life has investigated and exposed the abortion cartel in our state. It is heartening to see their pro-life efforts bearing fruit. I am calling on Hector Balderas to react immediately to the Select Committee’s letter and respond to the complaint that Tara and Protest ABQ filed 11 months ago. All pro-life groups in New Mexico need to continue to work to investigate and put pressure on the New Mexico abortion cartel until it collapses under the weight of its own evil.”

Protest ABQ  looks forward to working with the New Mexico pro-life community until the abortion cartel in our state continues to be completely exposed and also fully dismantled.

Click here for Protest ABQ’s timeline recap: New Mexico Baby Body Parts Scandal Timeline Recap

RELATED:

Select Panel Refers UNM & Late-term Abortion Facility for Criminal Charges Related to Fetal Tissue Procurement

BREAKING: Abortion clinic provided “whole brains” for youth summer camp

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