New Mexico is a western state with long distances, extreme poverty, diverse population, magnificent vistas, and many inequities. It is one of only four states which has a majority of people (61%) who identify themselves as people of color. The per capita income is 43rd in the nation and NM ranks highest in income inequality in the nation.
That’s why the NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is excited to welcome Whole Woman’s Health to New Mexico. Our New Mexico communities have a history of respecting our diverse personal and religious beliefs, including decisions about abortion. We know that the deeply personal and complex decision to end a pregnancy needs to remain solely where God has entrusted it: with a woman, according to her own faith and values — and with the counsel of the medical professionals, friends and family she wishes to involve, without government interference. I’m confident that our advocacy partners will be as excited as we are that women in southern NM will have access to the care they need, in their home community, surrounded by the support of their family and faith community.
Currently, a woman living in Las Cruces, if she has a reliable vehicle, must drive over 200 miles to see an abortion provider in Albuquerque. But for a woman living in rural southern New Mexico, such as Glenwood, that’s over 200 miles of rural highway through switchbacks and narrow canyons, up and over the continental divide. Bus service is only available to towns along the interstate. It’s not unusual for passengers to have to wait many hours at isolated rural bus stops to make connections to unreliable and poorly maintained buses.
Our faith traditions call upon us to advocate for the poor and marginalized. The opening of Whole Woman’s Health in Las Cruces means that more women will receive the healthcare they need, including safe and legal access to abortion, regardless of circumstances. We know lack of access to abortion has far reaching consequences: for a woman, for those intimately connected with her, and for her existing and future children and disparately impacts working-class women, women of color, young women, and women living in rural communities.
Like Ms. Hagstrom Miller, the NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, along with our members and clergy in southern NM is working to overcome the stigma that surrounds abortion and support women and families by ensuring that abortion is mainstream medicine for women, a part of the spectrum of care throughout their lifetime, available in hospitals, clinics and other safe settings where they access all their other reproductive health care services.
As people of faith we believe that the moral responsibility of human beings is God-given – especially that of a woman when making decisions about her reproductive life , because it is women who still bear the primary responsibility for conceiving, birthing, nursing and raising children. We’re blessed that this new health center will continue Whole Woman’s Health’s tradition of providing holistic, quality, woman-centered abortion care, counseling and education to women in southern New Mexico.