For New Mexico state Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena, the arrival of a new abortion clinic in Las Cruces, the city she represents, is surreal. Over the years, there hasn’t been consistent access to the procedure as providers came and went.
But now — weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court revoked the constitutional right to an abortion — the clinic at the heart of that decision has relocated from Mississippi to the city just across the Texas border of El Paso. It’s one of several clinics to announce its move to New Mexico in recent weeks.
It has quickly become Texas’ only neighboring state to protect abortion access and one of the few “haven” states in the southwest. People there have been preparing for a deluge of abortion-seekers — and those who want to stop the state from offering the procedure at all.
“Now people are coming from across the country — at great stress, great exhaustion, great trauma — to arrive in our community, where likely they will be met by a handful of angry protesters, so that they can access health care,” Lara Cadena told The Texas Tribune.
Close behind those traveling to Las Cruces for care are activists like prominent anti-abortion advocate Mark Lee Dickson, who helped Texas towns ban abortion before Roe. v Wade was overturned. The ordinances he championed served as the model for Texas legislation that severely limited when an abortion could be performed, which the Supreme Court declined to block.
Now, Dickson hopes to eliminate some of the next closest options as he tries to expand city abortion bans to conservative-leaning New Mexico towns.
“Southeast New Mexico feels a lot like Texas,” Dickson told the Tribune.
Aware of the looming threat, local leaders and abortion clinics opening in New Mexico remain confident that protections in the state constitution will prevent Dickson from gaining ground.
“We don’t need any outsiders coming here to try to mess with our autonomy and our capacity to shape our own families,” Lara Cadena said. “So when I hear all these activists coming over, I say, ‘Bring it.’”
Dickson isn’t oblivious to the legal and political barriers he’ll face in a state that leans Democratic.
“No matter what state we’re looking at, there’s a way to do this. And sometimes it’s a matter of challenging laws. I mean, that’s how we’ve gotten where we’re at today,” he said.
In addition to the opening of Pink House West — the new iteration of the now-closed Jackson Women’s Health Organization — New Mexico communities along the Texas border likely will see another health care clinic providing abortions with the arrival of Whole Woman’s Health. The provider recently closed the doors to its four clinics in Texas. Whole Woman’s Health plans to open somewhere just across the border to serve Texans traveling for abortions.
Amy Hagstrom Miller, the organization’s president and CEO, told The Texas Tribune that the continued efforts to curtail abortion rights have provided her team with lots of experience on how to best combat anti-abortion regulations.
And she has some advice for New Mexicans who can anticipate the full force of Texas’ anti-abortion advocates: Do “not concede any small thing.”
She pointed to Texas’ previous six-week ban and 24-hour waiting period that Republican legislators once presented as compromises.
“It’s a strategy to make the next restriction they decide to introduce sound reasonable,” Hagstrom Miller said.
See here for some background. The rest of the story goes into some history and the lay of the law in New Mexico, which offers some firm protections for pregnant people, including a prohibition on cities passing their own anti-abortion laws. I’m nobody’s expert on New Mexico, but if the folks there are confident in their ability to maintain their current course, I have no grounds to disagree. That said, let the record show me in full agreement with Amy Hagstrom Miller: Don’t concede an inch to these bastards. Fight them every step of the way, and send them home losers. It’s the only way to be sure.