The battle against abortion in the United States has been fought in the name of God since it was allowed by the Supreme Court in 1973.
Photo: AFP Agency
Diana Villanueva was 16 years old when she became pregnant after a non-consensual relationship. The man who raped her also forced her to abort the baby she was expecting, something that tormented her for decades. As she recalls that day, she emphasizes how difficult it was for her to be forced to act against her will.
“There were no people protesting or praying outside. I was afraid that someone would see me because my mother participated in the church (…) but at the same time I wanted someone to have been there because it would have given me the strength to say ‘I don’t want to do this’, because literally he [el hombre quien la violó] He pulled me out of the car and pushed me.”
Villanueva is a native of Stepin the ultraconservative state of Texas. Now 53, a mother of three and grandmother of two grandchildren, she coordinates the local chapter of a spiritual retreat for those who, like her, regret having experienced an abortion.
devised by psychologist Theresa Burke and present in dozens of countries, “Rachel’s Vineyard” is supported by biblical scriptures and is described as an alternative to “heal the pain of abortion”.
Of Catholic faith, Villanueva heard for the first time about this retreat in 2011 from the mouth of a father, after confessing “a million times” the interruption of her pregnancy in adolescence.
“An abortion affects you. It makes you angry (…), you can become depressed, feel angry, become addicted, start drinking or have nightmares, you can start to become promiscuous. We have seen this in retreats,” says Villanueva.
“A lot of women say ‘it’s my body, it’s my choice.’ I don’t think our bodies are ours. Your body belongs to Christ, and as such, you are the temple of Christ,” she states.
The battle against abortion in USA it has been waged in the name of God since it was allowed by the Supreme Court in 1973.
On Friday, a new ruling by the country’s highest court put an end to this right, which had been protected for almost five decades, a decision that Villanueva welcomed.
Because it is a federal system, the states can maintain their legal framework regardless of the decision of the Supreme Court. However, most, including Texas, have strict anti-abortion regulations and are moving toward outlawing it outright.
For example in Step, Villanueva’s hometown, there are no more clinics where it is possible to have a safe abortion. Although the city is in a unique situation as it is a neighbor of New Mexico, where the procedure is legal, strict legislation such as that of Texas can impact people outside its borders, criminalizing them for helping someone carry out the procedure.
Mark Cavalieredirector of the organization Southwest Coalition for Life, which designs programs and campaigns against abortion, defends this type of tool. “Those who carry out the procedures are the ones who commit acts of violence against women and children,” she says.
For Cavaliere, father of five children, the legalization of abortion attacked women: “Over the last 50 years, what it has done is half-create expectations in women that they have to alter and destroy the natural functions of their bodies to reach the definitions of success based on male role models at work and in college.
However, according to figures from the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that advocates for the continuation of this right, 75% of women who had an abortion in the United States in 2014 were below the poverty line or had low income.
Southwest Coalition for Life hosts programs like Her Care Connection which, among other initiatives, offers free ultrasounds in a modern van that inside resembles a luxurious office.
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In an attempt to dissuade women determined to terminate their pregnancies, the vehicle is sometimes parked outside the Clinic for Women’s Reproductive Health in Santa Teresa, in New Mexicoone of the few medical centers in which the procedure is performed on the southern border.
The programs are funded in part by donations at events, such as a Father’s Day run at an El Paso park.
The baby edition, with two competitors, was one of the most exciting of the morning. In an unexpected ending, one-year-old Leon Hernandez sped up his crawl and overtook his opponent as he was about to cross the finish line.
Dozens of people gathered wearing t-shirts with “pro-life” slogans, among others.
“It doesn’t matter how the baby was conceived. Nothing justifies ending the life of a child,” says Jazzmin Hernández, a 32-year-old teacher who has no children. “I think Texas is setting an example, and hopefully other states will follow suit and abortion will be completely banned.”
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