‘Your body belongs to Christ’: US anti-abortionists see divine hand in court ruling
DIANA Villanueva’s rapists took her to an abortion clinic when she was just 16 years old and told her to have an abortion.
She is not greeted by the crowds of protesters who often gather outside facilities in the United States to try to persuade women to change their minds.
But now, the 53-year-old Catholic is hoping for him – because he’s been haunted by the breakup ever since.
“I was afraid that someone would see me because my mother was very involved in the church and I was afraid that someone from the church would be there,” he told AFP.
“But then at the same time, I wish someone was there, because maybe that would give me the courage to speak up and say: ‘I don’t want to do this’.”
Villanueva now runs retreats in her native El Paso, Texas, helping women who, like her, regretted their abortions.
Designed by psychologist Theresa Burke and present in dozens of countries, “Rachel’s Vineyard” draws on scripture and is described as a way to promote “healing the pain of abortion.”
“The fact is abortion affects you,” he said.
“It makes you angry. At first you just want to get rid of the problem, so you don’t think outside the problem. You want a solution.
“But after you go through what you’ve been through then you reflect on what you did. That’s when the regret starts to emerge.”
Villanueva discovered Rachel’s Vineyard through her church, and her anti-abortion position — like many Americans who disagree with the practice — is deeply colored by her religion.
“Many women say: ‘This is my body, my choice’. It’s not your body; your body belongs to Christ.”
Religious rights have long aimed to overturn the Roe vs. Wade’s 1973 enactment of the right to abortion in the United States.
On Friday, their prayers were answered when a 6-3 majority in the Supreme Court discarded nearly 50 years of settled law, which allowed individual states to make their own rules – including banning abortion under all circumstances.
– ‘Women’s rights’ –
Texas has been one of the states leading the charge to restrict access to abortion.
A law that went into effect last year prohibits procedures when fetal heart activity can be detected – usually around six weeks, a time that few women realize they are pregnant.
El Paso no longer has a clinic offering abortions, but stands at the forefront of a widespread struggle.
Just across the border in New Mexico is the small town of Santa Teresa, a destination for women from all over Texas who want to have safe and legal abortions in a state that has far more liberal rules.
Even so, elements of Texas law mean that anyone who helps a woman have an abortion—even the Uber driver who takes her to the clinic—can be held accountable.
Mark Cavaliere, director of the Southwest Coalition for Life, which designs anti-abortion programs and campaigns, defends the tools.
“Those who carry out the procedure are those who commit acts of violence against women and children,” he said.
According to figures from the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that gathers statistics and advocates for abortion rights, 75 percent of women who had abortions in the United States in 2014 lived below the poverty line or were classified as low-income.
Cavaliere, a father of five, believes that the 1973 Supreme Court codification of abortion demeans women.
“Roe vs. Wade puts his hope in women to feel like they have to alter, suppress, and destroy the normal, healthy functions of the body to meet a definition of success that is truly grounded in male norms,” he said.
“We really hope by overturning [the law]we can actually solve the real problem, really solve women’s equality, women’s rights.”
The Southwest Coalition for Life hosts programs such as Her Care Connection which, among other initiatives, offers free ultrasounds in modern mobile clinics.
Vehicles sometimes park outside the Women’s Reproductive Health Clinic in Santa Teresa in an attempt to convince women seeking abortions to continue with their pregnancies.
Dozens of people gathered for a fundraiser for the van in El Paso last weekend.
The baby race — where two children crawl to see who can cross the line first — was a highlight for many in attendance.
Jazzmin Hernandez, a 32-year-old teacher who has no children of her own, smiled as she watched one baby overtake another on the last pass.
For him – unlike the majority of Americans, according to opinion polls – there is no gray area.
“It doesn’t matter how the baby is conceived. Nothing justifies ending a child’s life,” he said.
“I think Texas is setting an example, and hopefully other states will follow suit and abortion will be completely outlawed.”