ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Local anti-abortion groups said Wednesday that women receiving an abortion in New Mexico don’t have enough choice – at least when it comes to whether the aborted fetal tissue is donated for science.
They are pressing Attorney General Hector Balderas to finally act or appoint a special prosecutor to act on a 2016 federal report that they say lays out clear violations of state law in the clinic consent forms and other violations.
Balderas spokesman James Hallinan on Wednesday said the office already is investigating the allegations in the nearly 300-page report from the U.S. House’s Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, which targeted the University of New Mexico and Albuquerque abortion provider Southwestern Women’s Options.
“While we can confirm there is an ongoing investigation and both UNM and SWWO have responded to our demands by producing a voluminous amount of records, we cannot comment further on the investigation,” Hallinan said in an email.
Earlier in the day, a group of anti-abortion activists held a news conference at which they claimed the office is not investigating the allegations and is letting the statute of limitations for many of the alleged violations expire.
Elisa Martinez, president of New Mexico Alliance for Life, said the group, which included representatives from Students for Life, and mayoral candidate Michelle Garcia Holmes are asking Balderas appoint a special prosecutor to investigate violations of the state’s Maternal, Fetal and Infant Experimentation Act and the Jonathan Spradling Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act.
The group called the conference on Wednesday because it was the day the statute of limitations runs out for a possible violation in a particular case of interest to the group which was detailed in the U.S. House panel report.
In this incident, which happened in 2012, UNM Health Sciences faculty members sought whole fetal brains supplied by an abortion clinic so the brains could be dissected for “summer camp students,” according to the panel report. The group and panel allege this violated state law. UNM officials at the time acknowledged that a six-week “Neuroscience Summer Experience” in 2012 and 2014 involved fetal brain dissections. They said it was not a camp, but an educational research program.
In addition, Martinez said at least one of the two abortion clinics in the state has violated the law with consent forms. Citing a 2012 consent form, she said the form a woman must sign to authorize an abortion procedure at Southwest Women’s Options also includes the consent for the tissue to be donated for scientific research, so a woman then is limited in her choice because she cannot authorize the abortion and decline the research.
“Their right to choose was violated,” Martinez said. “The fundamental rights of women must be protected.”
Journal staff writer Rick Nathanson contributed to this report.