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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Women's health center relocates

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@ArdeeTheJourno

After UNM announced last week a planned relocation of its Center for Reproductive Health, anti-abortion activists continue to protest the facility.

On Tuesday, the University announced that the center, currently located at 1701 Moon NE, will move to 2301 Yale SE.

William Sparks, executive director for communication and marketing at UNM Health Sciences Center, said the center still does not have a specific date to move to the new location. He said the UNM Medical Group began planning the move about two years ago.

“This decision is a culmination of a two-year process that was initiated in order to improve access and also to provide for more facility space in order to treat the growing number of patients,” he said.

Sparks said that because the Medical Group runs the center, no taxpayer money or public funds will be used to finance the move.

Although the center offers abortion services for pregnancies of up to 22 weeks, Sparks said the facility focuses on general women’s health issues and services.

“The majority of the workers are dedicated to women’s health of all kinds, including baby wellness checks and pre-natal care,” he said. “They do have pregnancy termination counseling and care, but that’s a very small portion… It’s been highly mischaracterized. It’s a center for reproductive health that deals with a full range of women’s health services.”

Despite the continuous presence of anti-abortion activists in the facility in past years, Sparks said UNM decided to relocate the center independently. He said the decision had “absolutely nothing to do with any action this group has ever taken.”

According to a press release from Protest ABQ, an anti-abortion ministry that was launched earlier this month, the move was “a result of both the recent launch of Protest ABQ and a continued presence outside of the UNM CRH for the past three years.”

But this is false, Sparks said.

“It’s ludicrous,” he said. “Our concern is to continue to provide health care and to guarantee the safety of our patients.”

Tara Shaver, spokeswoman for Protest ABQ, continued to insist that the ministry’s protests are the reason why the center decided to relocate. She said anti-abortion activists in the city have been holding protests five days a week at the CRH’s current location since November.

“It confirms what we knew all along that our protest was making a difference,” she said. “They’re now trying to shy away, and it seems that they’re trying to hide themselves even more.”

Shaver said she does not believe the protest did not impact UNM’s decision. She said the group demonstrates in front of the center to educate women to slow down the center’s business.

“When a woman goes into an abortion clinic, she just gets an abortion,” she said. “We’re there to offer real solutions to her problems in her life… When women choose not to have an abortion, that takes away from their business. That takes away money they would have gotten if a woman decided to kill her child.”

And it is unimportant whether the CRH tackle other women’s health issues or not, Shaver said.

“Would we really say that we’re OK with Adolf Hitler killing Jews if one day he’s handing food to people?” she said. “It doesn’t matter. He’s responsible for killing Jews, and the University of New Mexico is responsible for killing babies… They need to stop killing babies and truly help women in their most desperate times.”

Despite claims that the protests did not impact UNM’s plan, Sparks said the University is still worried about the safety of the center’s employees. He said there have not been specific threats from the protesters to CRH employees.

“Everyone’s got a right to their convictions,” he said. “When you look at the different organizations involved, our concern is the specific history of these organizations involved now and some of the messages that they’ve been given in other places than here… There’s been a continuation of that kind of violent behavior.”

Shaver said her organization will continue protests against the University for it to close down the center in the future.

“We do not appreciate that our tax dollars are being used through a publicly funded institution to kill babies in the mother’s womb,” she said. “We’re going to highlight every individual until the killing stops.”

Protest ABQ will start protesting at the CRH’s new site on Yale and will continue protests at the current site today, Shaver said.