ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico woman who had an abortion in 2012 and recently discovered that her baby’s body parts had been sent for research without her knowledge has filed suit.
Jessica Duran, then 21, had been advised by the father of her child and her parents to have an abortion when she found herself pregnant. She didn’t really want to end her child’s life, but went to Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque, where she says that she wasn’t provided any other choice.
“At the time of my abortion, I had no support and I went to a place that was supposed to give me options and choices, a place where women’s rights are supposedly respected,” Duran outlined at a press conference on Monday. “Instead, I was taken advantage of. I was deceived when I was in an emotional, vulnerable and desperate state. The very people who advertise they offer women ‘the right to choose’ at Southwestern Women’s Options violated my right to choose.”
She says that she was provided a form to sign, but was not told that the document included a line consenting to the use of her baby’s body for research, nor that the consent is voluntary.
“I understand that tissue and parts will be removed during this procedure, and I consent to their experiment and their use in medical research,” it read.
She said that had she known, she would have left the abortion facility as it would have rang in her ears as a testament to the life inside of her.
Duran is now troubled as information has surfaced through a Congressional report that Southwestern Women’s Options transferred baby organs to the University of New Mexico, which is believed to be a violation of the state’s Spradling Act. The law prohibits gifting the organs of a child whose life has been ended through abortion.
“To know my child was used as a science project—a child I loved and wanted—it’s devastating,” Duran said at the press conference.
As previously reported, the Congressional panel on Select Panel on Infant Lives sent a criminal referral to Attorney General Hector Balderas in June over its findings.
“Laboratory notes produced to the panel reveal that a UNMHSC employee has collected aborted infant tissue collected from SWWO an average of 39 times a year,” its report outlined. “Organs harvested include brains/head, heart, lung, eyes/retina, kidney, spleen, adrenal gland, intestines, bone marrow, and stomach.”
“The notes contain information on aborted infants whose gestations ranged from approximately 11.5 to 30.5 weeks, with many in the 14 to 18 week range. At least 20 aborted infants were past 20 weeks gestation,” it continued. “The infants described included infants with ‘clubbed feet,’ aborted at 16 weeks gestation, a 22.5 week aborted infant with Down Syndrome, gestation, 20 week aborted twins with intact brains, a 25.3 week aborted female infant with an orofacial cleft, and a 30.5 week aborted ‘intact’ infant.”
New Mexico Alliance for Life says that not only is the transfer of baby body parts from Southwestern Women’s Options to the University of New Mexico illegal, it was also unlawful that the abortion facility did not explain to Duran what they planned to do with her baby.
“They’re supposed to be informed about the nature of the research going on. They’re supposed to be informed about the benefits of the research,” Executive Director Elisa Martinez told local television station KRQE. “They’re also supposed to be given the opportunity to ask questions and withdrawal from the research at any time.”
Duran is now seeking damages and is asking that the court stop Southwestern Women’s Options from sending any further babies for research.
“My baby was not just a clump of cells,” she declared. “That’s the lie that is being exposed. My baby was fully human, and her body was highly valuable for the sum of her parts—for UNM research projects.”
The abortion facility has released a general statement about the suit, remarking, “Southwestern Women’s Options has been caring for New Mexico women and their families for more than 40 years. During that time, the clinic has provided quality care in accordance with state regulations. … Southwestern Women’s Options stands by their procedures and their long-time commitment to providing women and their families with the highest quality care.”