One of the largest abortion providers in Texas is planning to move its operations to New Mexico and another provider that offers tele-health services related to abortion and reproductive health care is expanding its footprint in the state.
Austin-based Whole Woman’s Health began winding down its Texas operations after a ruling Friday by the Texas Supreme Court forced an end to abortions in that state. Now, the provider wants to establish a new clinic in a New Mexico city near the state line to provide first and second trimester abortions.
Whole Woman's Health CEO Amy Hagstrom said between 30% and 40% of their recent patients seeking services at their Minnesota clinic are from Texas.
"There’s no reason we should have this “two different America’s” that’s emerged that some people have access to safe, compassionate abortion care legally in their communities. And other people are forced to travel hundreds of miles," Hagstrom Miller said. "New Mexico is a safe haven state. It is a state that has firmly recognized abortion care as essential medical care. It is protected. There aren’t restrictions or bans, like we have experienced in Texas."
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Home to a Democratic-led legislature and governor, New Mexico recently took an extra step to protect providers and patients from out-of-state prosecutions. It’s likely to continue to experience a steady influx of people seeking abortions from neighboring states with more restrictive abortion laws.
Michael Maslanka, an associate professor of law at UNT Dallas, said the Texas law which existed in 1925 criminalizing abortion is now currently in effect due to the most recent ruling from the state's highest court.
Another hearing is set for July 12.
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"It’s a game of inches, but we know the outcome," Maslanka said. "It’s a game of inches now but once the trigger law takes effect, game over. Game over. Abortion will be prohibited in Texas, period."
Whole Woman’s Health has started a fundraising effort to help with the costs of moving equipment and supplies from Texas to New Mexico and for the purchase of a building to serve as its new home.
Kimberlyn Schwartz with Texas Right to Life, the state's largest and oldest anti-abortion organization, said there are programs that currently exist to help pregnant women and families. Schwartz pointed to the Alternatives to Abortion program, state funded program that started in 2005.
According to Texas Health and Human Services, the program promotes childbirth and provides support services to pregnant women and their families, adoptive parents, and parents who have experienced miscarriage or the loss of a child.
"Maybe you just had the baby and you’re looking for rental assistance or baby clothes." Schwartz said. "You can get job skills training or education mentorship if you’re trying to figure out what are the next steps for life? How can I provide for this child and push for these goals and these opportunities?"
Officials with Mississippi’s only abortion clinic also have plans to relocate to southern New Mexico and the tele-health provider Choix, based in San Francisco, announced Wednesday that it is now licensed to operate in New Mexico and plans to serve all states where abortion care remains legal by the end of 2023.
New Mexico lawmakers last year repealed a dormant 1969 statute that outlawed most abortion procedures as felonies, thus ensuring access to abortion even after the federal court rolled back guarantees.
The state’s largest city, Albuquerque, is home to one of only a few independent clinics in the country that perform abortions in the third trimester without conditions.
An abortion clinic in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, is just a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the state line with Texas near El Paso.