Defending life in New Mexico's city of death
Pro-life advocates in Albuquerque, N.M., are bucking the trend in the “late-term abortion capital of the U.S.” by petitioning for a ballot measure that would ban abortion after 20 weeks.
The petition is a grassroots effort led by Bud and Tara Shaver with Project Defending Life. Organizations such as the Catholic Coalition, New Mexico Right to Life, Knights of Columbus, and Voices for Family Values also support the petition, which calls for a measure modeled after the fetal pain bill passed in the U.S. House earlier this year. The city ordinance would only apply to Albuquerque, where three of New Mexico’s five abortion centers operate.
“Bills get introduced in our legislatures and then sent to committees that are totally against them,” Tara Shaver said. “It is discouraging that not even one piece of pro-life legislation has been passed in our Legislature. So we decided to try something on the city level.” She’s been amazed by the number of organizations coming together to support the measure.
When Shaver and other supporters filed the petition on June 28, they expected to have the typical 60 days to get the 12,091 signatures needed to get their measure on the October ballot. But the city clerk wanted to take extra time to validate the signatures and gave them only 30 days to fill their petition sheets.
“Our goal was 15,000 signatures, to be safe,” Shaver said. “Not only did we make our 15,000 goal, but in less than 30 days, we obtained over 18,000 signatures supporting the bill.” Volunteers with Project Defending Life will turn in the signatures tomorrow before the July 28 deadline.
“This bill is important because ultimately, women and their children’s lives are being put at risk,” Shaver said. In New Mexico, babies can be aborted up through the ninth month of pregnancy. Albuquerque is known for attracting women from across the nation for late-term abortions. Pro-life Witness reports that in 2011 alone, Medicaid paid for 1,786 abortions in New Mexico, sticking taxpayers with a bill for more than $1.1 million.
Southwestern Women’s Options center in Albuquerque, which employs former George Tiller co-workers, specializes in third-trimester abortions. The abortionist inserts a needle with feticide into the baby’s heart, sometimes missing and hitting the baby’s head or rump. “If it is not inserted into the heart, there is a 70 percent failure rate,” Shaver said. “We believe that many babies survive this procedure and are killed afterward because of the high failure rate.”
After the injection, the abortionist dilates the mother’s cervix, induces labor and delivers the baby, dead or alive. Shaver says this procedure is the same one used by Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of murder earlier this year.
“Many people think abortions at the 35th week don’t happen,” Shaver said. “In Albuquerque, they do.”
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