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ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico, December 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A New Mexico woman is suing an abortion facility for giving her aborted child’s body to the University of New Mexico for taxpayer-sponsored fetal research without informing her or requesting permission.

“My right to choose was violated” by Southwestern Women’s Options (SWO), Jessica Duran said. “They take advantage of women like me in frantic situations by not giving us all the facts and information we are entitled to.”

The late-term abortion facility gave Duran a consent form to complete for her 2012 abortion, indicating that “tissue and parts” of her aborted child could be used in medical research, the lawsuit filed in the Second Judicial District Court in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, said.

But SWO did not inform her of pertinent specifics, including how and to what extent her baby would be used in research, SWO’s status as the only fetal tissue provider to the university, where she should direct questions about the process, or the fact that donation of her baby’s remains for fetal research was voluntary in the first place. 

“As a patient of Southwestern Women's Options, I was never informed that my baby's body was going to be used for research at the University of New Mexico,” Duran stated at a December 5 press conference. “I was never informed that there was even a relationship between my abortion doctor and UNM, that my abortion doctor was actually faculty at UNM.”

SWO is guilty of deceptive trade practices and violated state law requiring informed consent before performing an abortion, Duran’s suit alleges.

State and federal law prohibit anyone from profiting from the sale of human organs and tissue. Federal law also “requires safeguards be in place, including a concern that too close a relationship might be formed between an abortion clinic and researchers.” Pro-life leaders say as well that “The Spradling Act” of New Mexico bans the donation of organs from any child who dies through an induced abortion.

Several SWO staff physicians are also volunteer faculty members at UNM, The Stream reports, which also quoted Duran, 25, saying the UNM-SWO research collaboration “appears to have influenced SWO employees to encourage me to abort my daughter.”

“My baby was not just a clump of cells,” Duran said. “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.”

Duran’s lawsuit comes after the New Mexico Alliance for Life (NMAFL) completed a yearlong investigation of SWO and UNM for what NMAFL Executive Director Elisa Martinez described as “collaboration” between the late-term abortion center and UNM “to harvest aborted baby bodies” while “violating women's rights to lawful consent for 20 years.” 

“By the reckless negligence of Southwestern Women's options doctors, in violating a woman's right to informed consent in such a serious matter, a human life that would otherwise be here today has been ended,” Martinez stated.

NMAFL is supporting Duran’s lawsuit.

Martinez, post-abortion counselor and founder of Surrendered Hearts Abortion Recovery Ministries Laura Rosecrans, and Students for Life of America's Sadé Patterson joined Duran at the press conference to call for an end to SWO’s harvesting of children’s remains from unsuspecting women. 

Martinez gave details of “shocking” practices that NMAFL discovered in its investigation of SWO and UNM, which included the dissection of an unborn 7-month-old brain by students at a UNM summer camp after the child’s brain was ordered “whole and fixed” from SWO by the university.

“Jessica and the countless women like her must live with this knowledge every day,” she said. “To find out their baby's body was used for a research project — after the fact, without their consent, only serves to retraumatize many of these women.” 

“The sad reality is that Jessica's story is not uncommon,” Patterson said. “Until we stand up for these women, they will continue to be taken advantage of by clinics like Southwestern Women's Options [that] have a pattern of being negligent.”

“Shame on Southwestern Women's Options for withholding information from Jessica and taking advantage of her in her most vulnerable state,” Patterson stated further.

Rosecrans concurred that many women are re-traumatized when they learn later after their abortion that their aborted child’s body has been used in such a manner.

Martinez, Duran and the other women also called for New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas to perform a criminal investigation and for university regents to suspend the school’s collaboration with the late-term abortion center immediately.  

On June 23, the U.S. House’s Select Investigative Panel issued291-page letter to Balderas referring the university and SWO for criminal charges related to their fetal organ procurement arrangement in violation of state laws. NAMFL’s findings factored into the panel’s recommendation.

“UNM Health Sciences Center and Southwestern Women’s Options can no longer deny wrongdoing,” Martinez stated. “There are victims out there who were deceived and whose rights were violated in the harvesting of aborted babies’ bodies.”

NMAFL launched a website to encourage more women who have had abortions at SWO with similar situations to Duran’s to come forward. The site offered free legal consultation to pursue legal action against SWO. 

In her remarks on the lawsuit and her experience with SWO, Duran pointed out the falsehood in the abortion industry’s “pro-choice” terminology.

“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,” she said. “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.”