EL PASO, TX — After more than 36 years committing abortions in El Paso, the “Hill Top Women’s Reproductive” abortion facility has closed. This announcement was made by the Southwest Coalition for Life on Saturday September 19 during a virtual kickoff event for their next 40 Days for Life campaign which begins Wednesday, September 23.
According to their Executive Director Mark Cavaliere, the Coalition for Life has been monitoring and documenting this development for months leading up to this announcement. “For two years now, we’ve had every hour outside Hill Top covered with our sidewalk outreach interns,” Cavaliere said, “They are trained to reach out in a professional, compassionate, and non-confrontational way offering free, quality, and life-affirming support and community resources to abortion-vulnerable women and couples who often are not pro-choice but actually feel like they have no other choice.”
During this time, Coalition for Life staff have noticed various signs of the impending closure beginning last Fall of 2019. “We started seeing realtors, building inspectors, and maintenance crews seeming to prepare the location to be sold. They also changed their website domain, dropping the ‘Hill Top’ which is specific to this location that’s literally on top of a hill. Yet they were still performing abortions there.”
That is until the COVID-19 lockdowns began. In March of 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order halting all non-essential medical procedures, including abortions, to save personal protective equipment for the coronavirus pandemic. All Texas abortionists were halted for an entire month, except for one.
“Dr. Franz Theard has a secondary abortion center just barely across the state line in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, where he has been able to skirt Texas restrictions such as the parental consent law for minors and the 24-hour waiting period,” Cavaliere explained. “The day after the executive order, we saw him transport his suction abortion machine to his New Mexico facility where he simply resumed all his abortions there.”
New Mexico is one of few states in the nation which has zero restrictions on abortion and is regarded by many as the ‘Late-Term Abortion Capital’ of the nation. “That same week he moved his operations solely into New Mexico,” Cavaliere continued, “we witnessed his staff carrying a limping woman out of his Santa Teresa abortion center, get in the patient’s own vehicle with her, and transport her back across the state lines to a Texas hospital, further exposing her during the peak of the pandemic and further straining Texas medical resources, which is exactly what Governor Abbott intended to prevent.”
Multiple Coalition for Life staff members who witnessed the event filed complaints which launched a formal investigation from the Texas Medical Board. One month later, when other Texas abortion facilities were allowed to re-open, the Hill Top facility did not. “It seems between our full-time outreach, community prayer vigils, the pandemic, and the investigation, it was simply easier for them to just stay at the one location in New Mexico,” Cavaliere surmised.
“We’re still outside Hill Top as well even though it’s been closed because it’s still listed online, so some women still go there which means we need to be there for them,” Cavaliere continued. It was during this time they recently witnessed all the signage being removed from the building and heard verbal confirmation from the nurse manager that the location was indeed closed.
Despite the closure of the Hill Top location, Franz Theard’s abortion business continues at his one remaining New Mexico location. Within El Paso, abortions are now only available at Planned Parenthood. “We’ll continue to redouble our prayer vigils and outreach efforts at both of the two remaining abortion locations in the Borderland,” Cavaliere promised.
Speaking from their headquarters just three doors from Planned Parenthood in El Paso, Cavaliere added, “Following the closure of the Las Cruces abortion center in 2017 where we started, then the closure of El Paso’s Reproductive Services in 2018, this closure of Hill Top marks three abortion facilities closed in just over three years, with two left to go. Our goal is to see all five closed in five years… or less!”
David Bereit, founder of the global 40 Days for Life movement, joined the virtual event from Virginia stating, “This is absolutely unprecedented. There is nowhere else in America or in the world that has had the kind of fruit, results, and progress that you are seeing.” Bereit emphasized, “These three closures in this short period of time demonstrates to you that your prayer, fasting, and outreach absolutely works…The Southwest Coalition for Life team has set a national precedent that is unlike anything we’ve seen anywhere else.”
The Coalition for Life takes no credit, however. “There’s no one group that can take any credit for this, all glory goes to God working through a united body made up of many different parts,” Cavaliere emphasized. “For decades, there have been prayer warriors, sidewalk counselors, pregnancy help centers, local activists and leaders, priests and preachers, protesters and abolitionists, even various groups from Albuquerque, Austin, and beyond who have all helped lay a foundation and all had roles to play in this. Even when we don’t always see eye-to-eye, this is a testament to what God can do when we stand arm-in-arm for these children and their mothers.”
Last year, the Southwest Coalition for Life raised $250,000 for a Save the Storks mobile ultrasound bus to bring free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, and community resource referrals directly to the front doors of local abortion facilities to educate, empower, and equip women and couples facing unexpected pregnancies to choose life. Cavaliere added, “We just hired a nurse manager and two sonographers! Our goal is to help moms be the heroes and save their babies from a predatory abortion industry. We’re just their sidekicks. We also connect women with post-abortion healing and legal support for those harmed by the violent trauma of abortion.”
The mobile medical unit, which is scheduled to begin operations by the end of October, will be named Joseph Thomas after an aborted baby who was discovered in the parking lot of the Hill Top abortion facility on Good Friday of 2011. The pro-life community had requested a burial and memorial after naming the child, but authorities instead disposed of his remains as medical waste. “It seemed like an appropriate memorial for this mobile unit which will be saving lives from the same abortion business that took his.” Cavaliere concluded, “The closure of this facility along with the entrance of this new mobile unit marks a changing of the tide and the beginning of a renewed Culture of Life in the Borderland.”
Bishop Mark Seitz of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso also joined the virtual announcement. “I was delighted to hear the news, thank God! He gives us these consolations along the way, just when we think we’re dealing with a rock that’s unmovable, we find it’s not nearly as set in stone as we think.” Bishop Seitz spoke more broadly about the issue of abortion stating, “The preeminent act of discrimination is the killing of a child in the womb, we make them into something less than human which is what happens with any form of discrimination.” In comparing abortion to racism and other issues he added, “We’re fighting for the equality of all humans. If an unborn child’s life can be taken, then it lessens the respect for life in the entirety of society. One could rightly observe that so many of the actions that degenerate human life at all stages have their roots in the act of abortion.”
Bishop Seitz said the Diocese is working with the Coalition for Life to plan a memorial service for all the lives lost at this location. From September 23 through November 1, the Coalition for Life is also coordinating 40 Days for Life vigils at the two remaining abortion facilities. Prayer volunteers commit to at least a one-hour shift each week to form unbroken chains of prayer from 7AM to 7PM each day for 40 days. Volunteers sign a statement of peace to be peaceful, prayerful, law-abiding, and non-confrontational. While staffed interns are trained to reach out to women and couples entering the facilities, prayer volunteers simply pray as a silent but powerful witness. Since 2007, more than 1 million volunteers have joined these simultaneous vigils across 63 nations leading to over 17,000 lives spared from abortion, 206 abortion workers converting, and now 108 abortion facilities closing. To participate in El Paso or Santa Teresa, contact the Southwest Coalition for Life at 833.388.LIFE or www.southwest.life