Several hundred pro-life advocates were gathered for a pro-life rally in Las Cruces the evening of July 19 when Mark Cavaliere, executive director of the Southwest Coalition for Life, made a surprise announcement.
He said the pro-life organization had just leased property next door to an abortion clinic to be opened by the Mississippi abortion provider that was at the center of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a June 24 ruling in the case, the high court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and returned abortion to the states to regulate.
"Our nation has taken a huge leap forward with the overturn of Roe," stated Cavaliere, "but New Mexico has taken a blow. We're going from having five abortion facilities in the state to triple, maybe even quadruple, that number. In our culture, everything about women has been vilified."
"We need to work to end abortion, but we have to do more to restore the sanctity of womanhood," he said.
Cavaliere invited the crowd to "provide all the health care services that organizations like Planned Parenthood pretend to do. ... Let's actually step up and do more to provide life-affirming health care."
He said Las Cruces has become "the epicenter of post-Roe America" with the Mississippi abortion provider coming "to do surgical abortions, to the second and possibly third trimester."
"If ever there was a place to respond to a challenge like we're facing, it's Las Cruces, the City of the Crosses," he added. "We've seen what God can do. If ever there was a people to rise up and say that women deserve better that abortion and we're going to be the ones to give them better -- it's the people here."
The new Guiding Star health center, as it will be called, will provide women with fertility care, pregnancy and childbirth, lactation and family life services. Only a driveway will separate it from the planned abortion clinic.
Terri Herring, president, of Choose Life Mississippi in Jackson, said the owner of Jackson Women's Health, Diane Derzis shut down her "pink house" of abortion after she lost her lawsuit against Mississippi's ban on abortion after 15 weeks and decided to come to Las Cruces and open a new abortion facility.
In the Dobbs ruling, the high court upheld the state's ban in a 6-3 vote; a 5-4 vote overturned Roe.
Herring said Derzis had previously been run out of Birmingham, Alabama, and she urged the crowd to "free New Mexico from being a refuge for abortion."
Leah Jacobson, founder and CEO of the National Guiding Star Project, noted this is the first time that one of the pro-life network's centers has opened up right next to an abortion provider.
Jacobson and Guiding Star focus on addressing the root causes that drive women to choose abortion.
"We need to listen to the voices of women that are feeling that abortion is their best option," Jacobson said as she shared statistics of why women seek abortions. "Pregnancy is not a disease! There is nothing healthy about destroying a perfectly functioning female body."
New Mexico state Sen. David Gallegos reminded rally participants that "the critical thing is that the governor wants to make New Mexico an abortion destination."
On June 27, New Mexico's Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, signed an executive order to safeguard abortion access and protect the state's medical providers from attempts at legal retribution for providing abortions.
In a tweet June 24 posted shortly after the Supreme Court issued its Dobbs ruling, Lujan Grisham said: "I will continue to fight for the right to a safe, legal abortion in New Mexico and stand as a brick wall against those who seek to punish women and their doctors for seeking care."
Gallegos criticized the lack of parental notice, reminding the crowd that their minor daughters cannot be given an aspirin without parental permission, yet these young girls can have an abortion performed on them without their parents ever being told.
He also emphasized the importance of voting pro-life.
Dominique Davis, executive director of Project Defending Life in Albuquerque, told rallygoers that New Mexico’s pro-life pregnancy care centers currently outnumber abortion facilities three to one. But the abortion industry is pouring millions of dollars to open more abortion facilities in the state, she said.
Davis said Lujan Grisham supports abortion for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy, and she urged the community to help build a "culture of life in the Land of Enchantment."
Mary Solorza, president of Students for Life at New Mexico State University, roused the crowd, declaring that she and her peers are committed to making their campus pregnancy- and parent-friendly.
"We are the post-Roe generation, women deserve better than abortion!" Solorza said.
Father Alejandro Reyes, rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Las Cruces, opened the rally with prayer and his own testimony.
He shared how his mother had been pressured to abort him by his father, but despite pressures and challenges, she chose life.
Today, the priest said, he serves as "a voice to the voiceless, the unborn children at risk of abortion."