A new documentary video from Sidewalk Advocates for life is exposing the pressure placed on women to go through with an abortion because they — or someone else, whether an abortion fund or an employer — have already paid for the abortion or the abortion-related travel expenses.
In the video, Lauren Muzyka, president and CEO of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, heads into New Mexico, an emerging abortion hub of the United States with a shared border with Texas, where most preborn children are protected from abortion. New Mexico has no laws restricting abortion and allows abortion in the third trimester.
Just days ago, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a law that prohibits local public bodies from establishing ordinances to protect preborn children. HB7, the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Freedom Act, prohibits any public body from imposing laws, ordinances, policies, or regulations that prevent women from accessing abortion.
Abortion businesses are, therefore, relocating to New Mexico from other states to set up shop, including Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the clinic that filed the lawsuit in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — the case that took down Roe.
‘A different level of desperation’
Muzyka wanted to see for herself what it looks like on the ground for women and sidewalk counselors at abortion facilities in New Mexico. What she found was that it is difficult for women to accept help from pro-life sidewalk advocates in New Mexico, because so many of them have traveled from out of state — often on someone else’s dime — for the abortion.
Mark Cavaliere, executive director of the Southwest Coalition for Life in New Mexico, explained in the video that sidewalk counselors used to help four to five mothers escape abortion every day in Las Cruces and Santa Teresa. That is no more.
“Now, there’s a different level of desperation,” he said. “The women that we’re seeing have invested so much. Often times they have gotten a plane ticket and they’ve flown across the state. They’ve gotten hotel rooms and rented rental cars, and by the time they show up at the abortion facility they say they’ve got to catch a plane back in a few hours.”
Not only is this physically dangerous for these women — who may not seek follow-up care in their home state — but the pressure to get into New Mexico, have the abortion, and get out is high.
“By the time they get here, they’re even more committed to obtaining this abortion because the abortion facilities, the referral centers in Texas have already given them a gift card,” said Dominique Davis, president and CEO of Project Defending Life, a pregnancy center in New Mexico. “[The women] feel more pressured to obtain the abortion because it’s already been paid for.”
Planned Parenthood in Texas began offering women $300 gift cards to entice them to go to New Mexico for an abortion, rather than providing them with actual services like prenatal care, gift cards for groceries, health care resources, child care resources, baby gear, and clothing — the very support pro-life centers provide free of charge. Likewise, abortion funding groups such as the National Network of Abortion Funds, and even employers, are now telling women they will pay for their abortion procedures and related travel expenses, which women may feel pressured to accept when in a vulnerable state of mind.
Once accepted, they feel pressure not to back out of that arrangement.
“By the time they’ve made the commitment to that drive, that fight … it is so much harder to get them to pause,” explained Muzyka. “It’s that psychology of influence, commitment, and consistency.”
Pro-life sidewalk counselors are needed… before women cross state lines
Sidewalk counselors in New Mexico will not cease trying to help women choose life no matter their circumstances, and Muzyka said that sidewalk counselors can still help in states that have passed pro-life laws. Just because Planned Parenthood is not committing abortions in a pro-life state doesn’t mean there’s no need for sidewalk counselors.
“People need you in abortion-restricted communities to be on the ground, to be there for the women of your community at your local Planned Parenthood abortion referral facility… to reach women before they are tempted to make a commitment to going across state lines and taking the life of their child,” Muzyka explained.
She added, “We can be there with life-affirming resources to help them… before they’re tempted to cross state lines and take the life of their child. It’s so much easier. We’ve seen it on the ground firsthand that women are actually [choosing life] because abortion is not readily available.”
Sidewalk Advocates for Life has counselors at 239 abortion businesses and abortion referral facilities around the nation, but more are needed to receive effective training to help ensure that women are reached with information on life-affirming options.
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