The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

Two Latino Brothers and Their Catholic Mother Fight in Rural Nevada Town to Maintain Abortion Rights


Highlights: "Sometimes you need emergency care. And a clinic like this would help," says one resident. The town of West Wendover, Nevada, has been trying to set up an abortion clinic for years. The state legislature recently passed a bill that would ban abortions in the town. The city's mayor says he will fight the law, which he says would hurt the town's economy. He says the city's residents are tired of being told they can't have an abortion without a law that protects it.

Fernando and Marcos Cerros are looking for a reproductive health clinic to be built in the town of West Wendover, one of many towns where attempts to enact local bans are proliferating. "Sometimes you need emergency care. And a clinic like this would help," his mother defends.

By Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez - KFF Health News

WEST WENDOVER, Nev. — Mark Lee Dickson arrived in April in this city of 4,500 on the Utah border to promote a city ordinance banning abortion.

Dickson is the director of the anti-abortion group Right to Life of East Texas, and founder of another organization that has spent the past few years traveling the United States trying to persuade local governments to enact laws against the procedure.

"Sixty-five cities and two counties in America" have passed similar restrictions, he told West Wendover City Council members during a meeting in mid-April. Most are in Texas, but recent successes in other states have motivated Dickson and his group to continue their initiative. "We're doing this in Virginia, Illinois, Montana and other places as well," he said.

Rural villages, an important battleground

Attempts to enact local bans have become particularly relevant in small towns, such as West Wendover and Hobbs, New Mexico, which are located on the borders between states that have restricted abortion and states where laws preserve access.

They are crossroads where abortion advocates and providers have sought to set up clinics to serve people traveling from large areas of the country where states have banned or severely restricted abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade. Wade who protected the federal right to abortion for 50 years.

Wendover Will" greets visitors to West Wendover, Nevada, a community in the far east of the state along the Utah border.Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez/KFF Health News

Residents and leaders in West Wendover and many other towns and cities are grappling with the arrival of outside voices, including Dickson's, who are now calling for a stake in governing their small, quiet communities.

The Case of West Wendover, Nevada

Dickson's proposal to the West Wendover City Council came after Council members voted in March against granting a building permit to California-based Planned Parenthood Mar Monte.

Officials at the Planned Parenthood affiliate told the local board that the facility would offer primary care services in addition to abortion and other reproductive care. The vote came after hours of heated debate during public comment space. Mayor Jasie Holm then vetoed the Council's decision, leaving the permit application in limbo.

Located in northeastern Nevada, West Wendover is more than 100 miles from Elko, the county seat, 120 miles west of Salt Lake City and 170 miles south of Twin Falls, Idaho.

The city has been a strategic location for the location of casinos and a marijuana dispensary, which are legal in Nevada but restricted in Idaho and Utah. Similarly, its proximity to states that restricted access to abortion following the Supreme Court decision has put the city in the spotlight.

The fight of the Cerros brothers

Dickson's anti-abortion proposal has won support from the city's more conservative residents. But brothers Fernando and Marcos Cerros have questioned these anti-abortion initiatives.

In addition to wanting to protect and expand access to abortion, both saw the primary care clinic that Planned Parenthood Mar Monte was trying to establish as a potential victory in their rural community, which is designated as an area that does not receive necessary medical services, or is medically underserved, by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration.

Brothers Marcos and Fernando Cerros have been trying to organize community members to support abortion access and establish a Planned Parenthood clinic in their city. They have found it difficult to keep this initiative going, they said. Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez/KFF Health News

Fernando Cerros, 22, said Planned Parenthood offered "on a silver platter" a solution to the health care shortage in the area. "And they denied it. I need to do what I can to bring them here," he said.

The Cerros brothers have tried to organize a group to support abortion access and establish the Planned Parenthood clinic in West Wendover, but have found it difficult to continue the initiative. They say they feel residents who support Dickson outnumber those who reject his ideas.

[Why Latinas Are Hardest Hit by Abortion Bans]

Marcos Cerros, 18, said he attends Mass at a Catholic church every Sunday in West Wendover and that parishioners are regularly listening to speeches with inflammatory anti-abortion language.

"Conflict scenarios are multiplying"

Abortion up to 24 weeks is protected by Nevada law, and the state legislature recently passed a bill to cement this protection into the state constitution. For this it must be approved again by the Nevada state legislature, in 2025, and then, by voters, in 2026.

Last year, following the Supreme Court's decision, then-Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak issued an executive order similar to those in other states protecting patients seeking abortion services from criminal prosecution in states where the procedure is not legal.

Across Nevada's eastern border in Utah, abortion is legal up to 18 weeks, but lawsuits are pending in court challenging the law and abortion clinic licenses.

This mother of three traveled 120 miles to get an abortion

Aug. 31, 202202:13

Then there's Idaho, which has one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country. Currently, the state allows abortion only in certain cases of rape and incest, or to save the life of the mother. In April, Idaho made headlines after lawmakers passed an "abortion trafficking" law that criminalizes helping minors cross state lines for abortions or obtain abortion pills without parental consent.

Abortion policies change in extreme ways from state to state, that's the new normal, and "what's coming" is that there are challenges to those measures at the local level, said Rachel Rebouché, dean of Temple University's Beasley School of Law and co-author of a recent research paper examining the legal reality behind the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Wade that protected access to abortion. "Conflict scenarios are multiplying, and this is the complex legal landscape in which we live," says the specialist.

Invoking a 150-year-old law

Dickson's strategy for creating what he calls "sanctuary cities for the unborn" involves invoking a 150-year-old federal law, called the Comstock Act, that restricts the shipment of abortion pills. But he argues that the law goes further and bans any "paraphernalia," including anything that could be used to perform an abortion, such as certain devices and medical instruments.

In April, Mark Lee Dickson, director of Right to Life of East Texas and founder of Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn, introduced an anti-abortion ordinance to West Wendover, Nevada, City Council members.Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez/KFF Health News

Federal officials say that while the abortion provision in the law has not been amended, there are court decisions that already existed when the Comstock Act was passed that limit its scope. The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion in December concluding that the law does not prohibit the mailing of abortion medications.

Dickson argues that the Comstock Act should supersede any state law or state constitutional protection. Rebouché said she's not sure how this approach would play out in court.

[Her 16-year-old daughter died after being denied an abortion: 'It's outrageous that her story repeats itself']

"There are a number of steps that a court would have to take, the most important of which would be that Comstock remains a valid law and that it precedes laws regarding abortion," he said. "That would be a controversial position because Comstock hasn't been strengthened or enforced in decades."

A spokesman for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte declined to comment on whether the organization would continue with the clinic in West Wendover, citing legal problems.

"An incredibly cynical initiative"

Dickson's proposal is now in the hands of West Wendover City Council. He assured local leaders that if they proceed with the implementation of the ordinance, their lawyer will represent them at no cost. That lawyer, Jonathan Mitchell, is a former Texas attorney general credited with helping shape the law that allows civil lawsuits against people and providers who "aid and abet" women to terminate a pregnancy.

An anti-abortion ordinance was rejected in at least one Ohio city, and other local bodies voted against such ordinances or chose not to bring them to a vote, according to Dickson's website.

"It's devastating": What does it mean that constitutional protection of abortion has been overturned?

June 24, 202223:12

Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, said there's some irony in Dickson's multistate effort to prevent people from crossing state lines to receive reproductive health care, including abortion. "It would be ridiculous if it wasn't so tragic," Miller said.

"It's an incredibly cynical, politically motivated initiative whose primary goal is to sow confusion and stigmatize abortion care," she said.

Miller also pointed to other municipalities, urban centers such as New York, Seattle, Philadelphia and others, that have passed local ordinances protecting and expanding access to abortion care.

A Catholic mother who understands nuance

The West Wendover city manager, mayor or council members would have to request that an anti-abortion proposal be considered at a meeting on the legislative agenda for it to move forward.

Holm, the mayor, said she would not include the ordinance "at any time" for consideration. Councilwoman Gabriela Soriano, the only woman on the Council, said in late April that she wasn't sure whether or not other members would move forward with such an ordinance.

West Wendover Town Hall is a centre of government in the city of 4,500. Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez/KFF Health News

Holm added that he was not aware of any contact with the city by Planned Parenthood Mar Monte to move forward with the clinic.

If the anti-abortion ordinance were instituted in West Wendover and prevented the opening of a clinic in the city, it would have far-reaching implications for residents. Currently, they face more than an hour's drivein either direction to the nearest hospital.

For some community members, the decision is not so clear.

The Cerros brothers said their mother, who is Hispanic and Catholic, is against abortion but supports the opening of the Planned Parenthood clinic in West Wendover. Years ago, she had a miscarriage after driving an hour and a half to Salt Lake City for emergency care.

"There's a huge divide between people who think you're killing babies and people who think pregnancy isn't black and white. Things come up," Fernando Cerros said. "Sometimes you need emergency care. And a clinic like this would help."

This story was produced by KFF Health News, a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism on health issues and is one of the main operational programs of KFF, the independent source of health policy research, surveys and journalism.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-05-31

You may like

News/Politics 2023-05-18T18:58:14.764Z

Trends 24h


© Communities 2019 - Privacy

The information on this site is from external sources that are not under our control.
The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.