ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque woman has filed a lawsuit claiming an abortion clinic failed to inform her that tissue from her fetus would be used for research at the University of New Mexico.
This comes just two weeks after some state lawmakers called on the university to immediately stop any research using fetal tissue, questioning if it’s being used legally.
Last week, Jessica Duran, 25, filed the lawsuit against Southwestern Women’s Options. UNM is not a listed defendant in the lawsuit.
Duran said she the clinic failed to inform her what would happen to the fetal tissue after she had the abortion. She said it wasn’t until this year when she found out it was used for research.
“I was going through an unplanned pregnancy at 21 and abortion was never something I wanted,” she said. “It’s hard to hear, to know that’s what ended up happening.”
Duran said she signed a consent form allowing the abortion. In it, several lines down it states, “I understand that tissue and parts will be removed during this procedure, and I consent to their experiment and their use in medical research…”
New Mexico Alliance for Life, a pro-life organization, said that’s breaking the law.
“They’re supposed to be informed about the nature of the research going on. They’re supposed to be informed about the benefits of the research,” Executive Director, Elisa Martinez, said. “They’re also supposed to be given the opportunity to ask questions and withdraw from the research at any time.”
Martinez said all this should be done on a separate consent form.
Last month, Republican lawmakers sent a letter to UNM Board of Regents about its relationship with the clinic and questioned whether UNM’s use of fetal tissues for research violates state and federal law. Following that, Duran said she feels she has a stronger case.
“I think at that moment, had they informed me I would have snapped that this is a life inside of me, a valuable life,” Duran said. “I think I would have, no, I know I would have walked right out of that clinic.”
Southwestern Women’s Options sent KRQE News 13 a statement:
“Southwestern Women’s Options has been caring for New Mexico women and their families for more than 40 years. During that time, the clinic has provided quality care in accordance with state regulations. While the clinic has not yet been served with the suit released to the media today, Southwestern Women’s Options stands by their procedures and their long-time commitment to providing women and their families with the highest quality care.” — Heather Brewer, spokeswoman, Southwestern Women’s Options
UNM also sent a statement regarding the lawsuit.
“The University of New Mexico cannot comment on Ms. Duran’s specific assertions. It is UNM ‘s understanding that Southwestern Women’s Options ensures that any women who agree to donate tissue do so only after being appropriately advised about their options and give their consent for any donation of tissue to the university. The university is not given the identity of the donors of the tissue. Therefore, UNM has no way of knowing whether Ms. Duran was a patient at Southwestern, if there was tissue from Ms. Duran’s pregnancy termination procedure or if it was ever donated to the university for research.”