EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Beginning Wednesday, the nation’s most restrictive abortion bill went into effect in Texas, banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Planned Parenthood in El Paso and the Southwest Coalition for Life weighed in on what the bill means for the Borderland.
“The state of Texas is forcing people to stay pregnant against their will,” said Xochitl Rodriguez, Philanthropy Officer of Planned Parenthood El Paso.
She said the clinic has been preparing for months on end in the event the bill became law. Planned Parenthood said it will abide by the law but continue offering birth control services, emergency contraceptives and science-based education amongst its other reproductive health services.
“S.B. 8 is a politically motivated and medically unnecessary abortion ban that will affect 85 percent of people seeking abortion in Texas,” Rodriguez said.
She said the clinic has increased staff to include navigation officers to assist people looking for information, as she anticipates many people won’t know about the law until they go to the clinic and are past the six-week pregnancy mark.
“So we will have people on hand helping people understand what their legal rights are options are and of course providing information where folks can go,” Rodriguez said.
Meanwhile, the Southwest Coalition for Life Director of Operations, Jessica Sifuentes, said it’s not a matter of rights, but life.
“It is a huge step toward the right direction from protection all stages of life from conception to natural death,” Sifuentes said.
She said she anticipates they will see a large influx of women traveling either from El Paso or through the Borderland to New Mexico, which is just miles away from the Sun City and where abortion is not restricted.
“We are prepared in offering our services and being able to connect these women and empowering them,” Sifuentes said.
She added that the coalition plans to use their mobile unit to park outside an abortion clinic in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, where they will offer free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and counseling or information to women considering abortion.
“We’re rallying our community to come support these women, ’cause many are facing unexpected pregnancy and feel they have no choice but abortion,” Sifuentes said.
Late Wednesday night, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 against an emergency appeal from abortion providers and others to block enforcement of the law.
On Thursday, the Biden Administration called the U.S. Supreme Court’s decion an “unprecendented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights.”