By, Vince Torres, President and Executive Director
In the opening to the 1859 classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens famously penned:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”
As I spent some time this week pondering the influence and impact of the abortion industry in New Mexico, I could not help but think of Dickens’ masterful paradox contrasting the conditions of London and Paris at the time of the French Revolution. Since that time, Dickens’ words have often been used to compare and contrast the circumstances preceding a radical transformation or revolution. And given the state of New Mexico politics and the stakes involved in this year’s election, I believe Dickens’ paradox is quite apropos, particularly when it comes to the ongoing abortion debate in our state.
It was the best of times—In March 2019, 8 Democrats join Republicans to defeat the radical abortion bill, HB51, in the New Mexico Senate. The legislation, proposed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and pro-abortion legislators, is an effort to codify abortion up to the moment of birth in state law. The bill’s defeat is widely celebrated as the greatest victory for New Mexico’s pro-life movement in modern history.
It was the worst of times—Just over one year later, in June 2020, 5 of the 8 pro-life Senate Democrats – Senators Mary Kay Papen, John Arthur Smith, Richard Martinez, Clemente Sanchez, and Gabriel Ramos – are defeated in their Democratic primary elections by radical, pro-abortion, progressive candidates. Their defeat comes on the heels of Governor Lujan Grisham’s promise to the abortion industry: “The second we have the votes in the Senate, that antiquated, absolutely outrageous law is gone” (in reference to HB51).
It was the age of wisdom—In 2020, pro-life State Representative Rod Montoya again introduces legislation to protect babies born alive after a botched abortion. Following the Governor of Virginia’s 2019 remarks condoning infanticide, public backlash erupts nationally and states around the country began to pass the “Born-Alive Infant Protection Act,” requiring medical professionals to provide appropriate care to any child who survives a failed abortion. At the federal level, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives also introduce born-alive legislation during the 2019-2020 Congress.
It was the age of foolishness—In spite of overwhelming public support, born-alive infant protection legislation stalls in New Mexico and Washington D.C. Governor Lujan Grisham refuses to add the bill to the 2020 Legislative Session agenda. Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., all five members of our Congressional delegation block efforts to advance the bill through Congress. In February 2020, Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich vote against advancing the Senate version, and Representatives Ben Ray Lujan, Deb Haaland, and Xochitl Torres Small reject efforts to advance the House version.
It was the epoch of belief—In March 2019, Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico® and our allies – Right to Life Committee of New Mexico, New Mexico Alliance for Life, and local churches – coordinate a mobilization campaign for citizens to call the Governor and express their opposition to HB51. In just two weeks, the Governor’s Office receives more than 10,000 phone calls with more than 98% of the callers stating opposition to HB51.
It was the epoch of incredulity—In spite of technological advances (including 4D ultrasound technology) and scientific evidence affirming the humanity of unborn children, paid pro-abortion activists flood the State Capitol in Santa Fe in 2019 and 2020 to lobby for the termination of human life. While loudly proclaiming “Abortion is Healthcare,” they advocate for abortion up to the moment of birth for any reason, while opposing conscience protections for medical professionals and reasonable healthcare protections for women and minors.
It was the season of Light—In 2018, thanks to the efforts of New Mexico Alliance for Life, pro-life legislators, and a Congressional panel, the University of New Mexico halts its fetal tissue research program which included the procurement, sale, and dissection of aborted baby body parts. The program’s closure comes three years after the University halts its training program at late-term abortionist Curtis Boyd’s clinic.
It was the season of Darkness—In 2017, 23-year-old Keisha Atkins dies during a botched, elective late-term abortion at Boyd’s abortion clinic. Though the original autopsy cites “natural causes related to pregnancy” as the cause of death, doctors who treated Atkins raise serious concerns about the autopsy and its accuracy. New Mexico Alliance for Life exposes the fact that women at Boyd’s clinic are routinely told not to call 911 during an emergency, but to call the clinic. In September 2018, pro-life attorney Michael Seibel files a wrongful death lawsuit against Boyd, his clinic, and the University of New Mexico on behalf of Atkins’ family.
It was the spring of hope—Ahead of the 2020 Legislative Session, Governor Lujan Grisham releases her agenda. Noticeably missing is her abortion up-to-birth bill. During an interview, the Governor concedes that the bill will not be introduced because she lacks the votes to pass it. During the final days of the Session, however, Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico is notified that the Governor is lobbying behind the scenes to resurrect the bill. Together with our allies, we quickly mobilize pro-life New Mexicans to call and email the Governor and members of the Senate. Our quick action diffuses the effort and the Session adjourns without any pro-abortion legislation being introduced.
It was the winter of despair—The U.S. Supreme Court overturns an important Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, representing a significant blow to women’s safety. The Louisiana law in question was enacted to protect women from the abortion industry and its barbaric history of botched abortions by requiring abortion providers – like doctors at all free-standing clinics – to be able to admit and treat patients at nearby hospitals if emergencies arise. In response, pro-life attorney Michael Seibel and Abortion on Trial release damning evidence demonstrating how Keisha Atkins may have survived her botched abortion had the abortion provider been required to have hospital admitting privileges.
We had everything before us—Following the June Primary Election, attention shifts to the upcoming November General Election. With pro-life candidates for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, and the State Legislature on the November ballot, New Mexico faces the opportunity to send a pro-life Congressional delegation to D.C. and pro-life majorities to Santa Fe.
We had nothing before us—The November Election is up for grabs and New Mexico also faces the possibility of maintaining the status quo. And what is the status quo? – it is abortion up to the moment of birth for any reason; infanticide; no parental involvement when a minor child seeks an abortion; and continued efforts to force medical professionals to perform abortions against their conscience.
When it comes to abortion, New Mexico is “The Tale of Two States” – the state that values human life versus the state infamously regarded as the late-term abortion capital of the country. The state we choose to be moving forwarded will largely be determined by the outcome of this year’s election.
In his final contrast, Dickens’ rejoices and laments, “we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”
Practically speaking, New Mexico, we best move upward – and quickly – before our state continues its rapid downward spiral. I truly believe the “best of times” lie ahead, if we are faithful to impact the choices “before us.” This November, above all other issues and regardless of your party affiliation, vote pro-life and let’s restore a culture of wisdom, belief, Light, hope, and life in the “Land of Enchantment.”