Anti-abortion Extremists Exploit COVID-19, Harass Women & Endanger Lives

It’s hard to miss: social media posts, newspaper articles, TV news segments, emails, text messages, billboards… all directing residents to stay at home unless essential services are needed to slow the spread of COVID-19. So why are anti-abortion extremists in New Mexico (and nationally) still gathering in front of medical facilities to harass women who are seeking reproductive care? 

Extremists like Right to Life New Mexico, 40 Days for Life New Mexico, the Sidewalk Advocates for Life and Abortion Free New Mexico mock the severity of the COVID-19 global pandemic with their actions which, ironically, endanger their own lives and the lives of their members, in addition to clinic patients. Amid this global pandemic, these groups are seen gathering to harass women who are seeking abortion and other forms of reproductive healthcare at local clinics. 

To the detriment of their members, these extremist groups are deliberately misleading their followers, spreading dangerously false information that “we’re close to a cure” for COVID-19 (See graphic below), endangering the lives of their members, the families that live with them and the public they subsequently interact with. The apparent “right to life” groups seem to have a blatant disregard for the living. 

It’s no surprise that extremist marching orders seem to be coming from Donald Trump, who, despite his own advisors warning the public about the severity of the pandemic, continues a drumbeat that underplays the severity of the outbreak here in the United States. 

But anti-abortion groups are no stranger to blocking access to healthcare, no matter the cost to human lives. Alongside a history of violence and bombings at abortion clinics, the exploitation of COVID-19 is one of the many disgusting and opportunistic actions this “movement” has engaged in- from the national level, all the way down to our neighborhoods. 

In case you missed it, here are some more recent examples:

At the national level, anti-abortion lawmakers snuck dangerous anti-abortion language into the coronavirus bill.In several states across the U.S. anti-abortion lawmakers have deemed abortion as non-essential, endangering the lives of women across their state who are seeking medical care.

Hundreds Advocate to Keep Abortion Safe and Legal at Respect NM Women Day of Action

By Erica Davis-Crump, ProgressNow NM Reproductive Justice Organizing & Content Associate

This week, hundreds of New Mexicans showed up to continue the stand for abortion access and reproductive justice. Respect New Mexico Women Coalition led the charge to help families find their lawmakers to make sure their voices were heard. The pressure is on New Mexico lawmakers to keep abortion safe and legal in our state, as the potential gutting of Roe. v Wade hangs in the balance within the coming months. 

Generations of families and women’s healthcare supporters flooded the roundhouse despite the snowy and icy weather conditions. (The epitome of “…  but nevertheless, she persisted.”) There is usually angst and animosity on rally/lobby days for the anti-abortion extremists.

Abortion Bans Are About Power & Control of Women’s Bodies.

For any one of us who has been a survivor of rape, molestation, sexual harassment or domestic violence, we have been told over and over that these forms of abuse take place because the abuser wants to assert power and control over our bodies. Across the United States, there is an epidemic of politicians, governments and extremists who are trying to assert power and control over our bodies by means of banning abortion- a personal decision that should always remain between a person and their doctor. By taking away our personal decision-making abilities, we are being stripped of respect, and being stripped of autonomy. Anti-abortion extremists spend millions of dollars to shame, pressure, punish and harass us- proving that their interest is not about morals or religion: it’s about power and control. New Mexico has an old abortion ban on the books.

#NMLEG WRAP UP

This year’s legislative session was a really intense roller coaster, to say the least, and we all took some time to rest and reflect together on why we do this important political work. ProgressNow New Mexico’s coverage hardly scratched the surface and I want to take a moment to fill you in. I will also give you some tips on how you can help fight back against dangerous rhetoric! Reproductive Health

Anti-abortion extremists were in full force, spreading misinformation and only harassing an Indigenous and queer person (me) over House Bill 51, not including legislators and their families. They regularly use tactics like harassing and stalking to intimidate activists, medical providers, and patients so this is just one of their many tactics.

Abortion Is Healthcare

Last night, HB 600, the Women’s “Health and Safety” Act, and HB 608, “Allow Refusal to Admit Patients For Abortion”, AKA “Let Doctors DISCRIMINATE Against Patients Seeking Routine Healthcare Procedures”, were both heard in House Consumer and Public Affairs. There was so much misinformation, vitriol, and microaggressive behavior, we don’t really know where to begin. For starters, I, Rachael Lorenzo, testified against HB 608 about my experience being denied care. It is despicable that any person must disclose traumatic medical history before the world to speak up against or for bills. My experience with being denied life-saving abortion care in an emergency setting while actively miscarrying at a New Mexico hospital could have left my daughter without a parent.

URGENT ACTION NEEDED- Permanently Protect Access to Abortion in NM

Yesterday, Representative Rod Montoya (R) presented HB 600- the “Women’s Health & Safety” Act- in the House Consumer and Public Affairs (HCPAC). Let’s be real- this is a nefarious move to limit access for women and young people when seeking reproductive healthcare. We heard a lot of really untrue, dangerous, and frankly, violent, rhetoric that we won’t justify here. What we will do is share the testimony of real, New Mexico families building trust and communication together and from providers who trust their patients to be active participants in their own care. Check out these tweets and Instagram stories of coverage from folks who respect New Mexico families’ private health decisions.

Respect NM Women Coalition Lobbies the Roundhouse

On February 14, 2019, Respect New Mexico Women, a coalition of organizations that work to protect abortion access from across the state, lobbied legislators in the House and Senate at the Roundhouse. We must say, it was beautiful to see true representation of our state show up to tell our elected leaders that we support access to abortion and that healthcare is not a crime! Folks from every corner of the state including Indigenous folks from various tribes and Asian families were in full force to let our elected officials know that we appreciate votes FOR HB 51- a bill to keep abortion safe and legal. It’s literally a page long so read it here. Check out these highlights of the Respect New Mexico Women Lobby Day!

National Network of Abortion Funds celebrates NM abortion advocacy group

The results of the 2018 General Election mean many things to many people, but for New Mexicans, abortion care is high on the list. 

In 2017, Representative Joanne Ferrary (D-37) sponsored House Bill (HB) 473, the Decriminalizing Abortion Bill that would have removed a pre-Roe vs. Wade law that criminalizes abortion providers. Under the Trump Administration, the likelihood of abortion being a central issue before the 2020 election is both high and the results could be dire. With the appointment of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, abortion access is in danger for everyone but especially low-income folks and people of color. We expect the state legislature to take up an abortion decriminalization bill again with Governor-elect Lujan-Grisham’s support and eventual signature.