SELECT title FROM cont_articles WHERE id='' LIMIT 1 Santa Fe Reporter

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Review

Space jams and the power of love

Movie ReviewsThursday, July 20, 2017 by Alex De Vore

If there’s one thing we know Fifth Element director Luc Besson can pull off, it’s wildly fun over-the-top sci-fi, and he does not disappoint with Valerian—to a point. Whereas the world-building and CGI hits that utterly gorgeous sweet spot, Besson, who also helmed 1994 fan-fave Léon: The Professional, becomes mired in mediocre writing, a few goofy missteps and an almost-tired story about how big ol’ government entities are always stepping on the little guy.

Valerian is adapted from the French serial comic Valérian and Laureline (which debuted in 1967) wherein we follow a brash young soldier named Valerian (here played by A Cure for Wellness’ Dane DeHaan) and his underling partner Laureline (Cara Delevingne of Suicide Squad)—with whom our hero happens to have fallen in love. As the partners are swept up into the world of military buffoonery and action-packed space missions in and around the space station Alpha (a sprawling interstellar city that hosts living creatures from a thousand planets), they begin to question their superiors and step way outside protocol to right the wrongs of their people’s past. Y’know, because they’re good guys like that.

Alpha itself is gorgeous, a bizarre mix of Bladerunner and anime that almost hits video game territory in terms of scale and style, but still feels like a living, breathing metropolis. Diplomatic relations are tense, but Valerian and Laureline are, of course, not sticklers for the rules. They know right from wrong, which would grow tedious were it not for some stunning sequences that not only fall into ain’t-it-cool territory, but show off Besson’s imaginative ideas of future tech, aliens, etc. Sadly, however, the running time starts to push things, and a baffling mid-film music video featuring Rihanna (yes, that Rihanna) fails to recall the likes of that brilliant Fifth Element opera scene and instead feels like some confused film exec insisted on inserting more sex into the thing. An inter-dimensional market chase, however, is clever and original in a Futurama-like vein right down to an appearance from John Goodman’s voice.

Regardless, for those seeking a fun time at the movies, this oughta do just fine if you don’t go looking for anything deep or groundbreaking. Lasers are fired, the aliens look cool and the opening sequence to the tune of David Bowie is perfect. Perhaps Valerian doesn’t become a giant leap for mankind, but it does hit the dizzying highs of space intrigue, and that’s just how we like it.

+Beautiful, exciting
- Love, schmove


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Directed by Besson
With DeHaan, Delavigne and Rihanna
Violet Crown, Regal, PG-13, 137 min.

The Fork

Try Our Recipes!

The ForkThursday, July 20, 2017 by Michael J Wilson

Have any of you tried the recipes we printed in the Reporter? We did pommes Anna and summer pudding most recently. We'd love to hear your thoughts on format and ease of the recipes, or if there's anything you'd like to see us tackle. Tag #SFRfoodies and @sfreporter on Instagram with your experiments with our recipes!

Let's FORK!

The second Farms, Films, Food: A Santa Fe Celebration event is Aug. 2 at the Center for Contemporary Arts (1050 Old Pecos Trail, 982-1338).

Presented by CCA, the Street Food Institute, and the Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute, the free event celebrates Santa Fe’s unrivaled love of great food, local agriculture and world-class cinema. There will be food samples from a cooking demonstration by local chefs or farmers, tours of Muñoz Waxman Gallery, presentations from community partners, affordable meals from the Street Food Institute and Kebab Caravan, and two free screenings designed for food lovers and families.

The featured speaker, Don Bustos, and food demo chef, Chef Michelle Chavez, will both be addressing the importance of heirloom and land race varieties as we work to maintain a vast diversity of vegetables in our gardens and on our tables.

Food trucks featured include the Street Food Institute, Kebab Caravan and Freezie Fresh. Axle Contemporary will be on hand with their latest art show. The movies for this event are My Neighbor Totoro and Food Evolution.

WHEN: 5-9 pm Wednesday Aug. 2
WHERE: Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail, 982-1338

A light week. I just learned that Pete's Frites shut down their food truck. And with Bang Bite's conspicuous absence I'm starting to wonder if the food truck fad never really found a hold here in Santa Fe. Thoughts? Do you truck? What's your favorite?

Have a great week,

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Morning Word: Dig Deep, Taxpayers

Morning WordThursday, July 20, 2017 by Matt Grubs

Taxpayers will share Questa mine cleanup costs
It's a mine-waste cleanup job that's expected to cost $1 billion, and yesterday, a federal Court of Appeals ruled the government will have to share that cost with the mine's owner, Chevron. The feds owned part of the site of the shuttered molybdenum mine and helped finance it, too. Molybdenum is a steel-hardening agent and the government encouraged its extraction in the 1950s for military-grade steel. A lower court will decide who owes what in the coming months.

Wet noodles
There's a new business going in to the old Mu Du Noodles spot on Cerrillos Road. And it seems like it might be adult-themed. The owners, SFR found, also run several adult stores like the Big Eye in Albuquerque. They're also affiliated with Arcade News, the adult store next to Cheeks strip club. Neighbors are worried it's at the edge of a residential neighborhood and too close to two nearby schools. The city isn't sure what's going on.

Stabbing call ends with police shooting
New Mexico State Police are investigating the shooting of a stabbing suspect yesterday. Police say the Santa Fe Police Department's SWAT team responded to the Tuscany at St. Francis apartments near Zia Road and St. Francis Drive yesterday. After neighbors say they negotiated for an hour with the suspect—something police haven't confirmed—at least one officer fired at least one shot, killing the suspect. The stabbing victim was taken to the hospital, but is okay.

Grayed anatomy
New Mexico leads the nation in the percentage of doctors age 60 or over. It has for the past two years. As an updated study of the physician workforce is due this fall, SFR looked at what the medical care community has been doing to try to attract younger doctors before the older ones decide it's time to retire.

Easy ridin', hard mortgagin'
Taos County—home to rivers and mountains and great food and etched in the minds of many as the backdrop for the counter-culture movie classic Easy Rider—is one of the least affordable places to live in the US, according to a study by an internet company. The median income is less than $37,000 and the median home price is more than $240,000. Meanwhile, Los Alamos is on the other end of the spectrum, with a median income over $100,000 a year and relatively affordable places to live on that salary. 

Home of 'The Brave' ... and the chilly
Two new productions are going to be shooting in and around Santa Fe, including the independent feature film Icebox, which will be in production through August in Albuquerque and Española. The first season of an NBC drama called The Brave will start shooting this month in Santa Fe and Albuquerque and continue through the end of the year.

Accidentally Awesome
Jude Sparks was 9 years old when he tripped over something in the Las Cruces brush last November. It was a fossilized Stegomastodon that had a few years on him. Like, 1.2 million of them. Jude and his family called New Mexico State University and the rest of it makes for a pretty neat story in the New York Times

Storms again
It's going to be a hot one again, with a chance of storms to cool us off in the late afternoon (that applies to the western half of the state). That chance will kick up on the weekend as it cools down a little to boot. Do your outside stuff in the morning ... just as soon as you're done with the Word.

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Morning Word: Mural, Mural Off the Wall

Morning WordWednesday, July 19, 2017 by Matt Grubs

Massive cover-up at City Hall
Actually, it's kind of on City Hall. A mural on the outside of the seat of city government, called "Spiritual Warrior Within," was stuccoed over by contractors who were working on project to restucco all of City Hall. The city says miscommunication between several departments, boards and commissions is to blame, but the mural may be permanently lost—or turn into an expensive restoration project.

Dunn gonna run
State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn is going to take another shot at Congress. Dunn announced yesterday that he'll pass up the chance for reelection to his current post to instead pursue the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by Steve Pearce. He's the second Republican into the race, after Alamogordo Rep. Yvette Herrell. So far, four Democrats have announced a run, though all announced before Pearce made his decision and none have held elected office before.

Whistleblowers say state silenced them
Three women who filed a lawsuit against Presbyterian Healthcare Services for underpayment of taxes say they raised the issue with their bosses at a state agency two years ago, only to be silenced. The women work at the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance and say they identified issues with the insurer in 2015. They filed a lawsuit under the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, which lets private individuals prosecute government waste cases, but also lets the attorney general intervene, which Hector Balderas did last week. 

A deeper story
New Mexico in Depth continues its post-mortem examination of the behavioral health care crisis that began in 2013, when the Martinez administration accused 15 providers of Medicaid fraud, froze payments to them and forced many out of business. Its most recent look at the mess examines how the state took three years to investigate a Las Cruces business that had a letter from state prosecutors explaining it had already self-reported billing problems and been cleared in a review that covered the vast majority of the payments in question.

Feds officially pass on charges for Boyd officers
Though it was reported years ago, the Department of Justice has now made it official: Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez will not face charges for killing homeless camper James Boyd in 2014. The bar for those charges, which involves a determination that the APD officers willfully deprived Boyd of his civil rights, is one of the hardest to meet for prosecutors.

State board grills UNM over new hospital
The hospital at the University of New Mexico's Health Sciences Center is old, overcrowded and, despite being the only place in the state that can treat certain conditions or traumatic injuries, had to turn away 1,000 people last year. The Health Sciences Center has been trying for years to build a new facility on land it owns, with money it already has, but Gov. Martinez has been skeptical of the project. The State Board of Finance shelved the plan five years ago and spent three hours debating its merits yesterday. No vote is scheduled. The plan can't move forward without it.  

Truck stop drama
The latest public meeting for a proposed truck stop at the I-25/Highway 14 interchange featured as much hissing and screeching as, well, a truck stop itself. Angry residents of the Turquoise Trail and Rancho Viejo developments say the 24/7 business has no place near their homes. The land Pilot Flying J wants to buy is generally zoned for commercial use, thought the county would have to approve modifications.

How unique is the Lobo?
A federal spending plan for the US Department of the Interior would require genetic testing of the Mexican gray wolf to determine if it is a distinct subspecies. If it isn't, protections for the wolf could be weakened or removed. Supporters say it's a responsible approach, which wolf advocates say it's a thinly veiled plan to stop wolf reintroduction in its tracks.

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The State of the Forest

If anyone is going to save the national forests, it’s going to be the people who own them: everyone

Local NewsWednesday, July 19, 2017 by Elizabeth Miller

This summer, only one law enforcement officer will patrol all of the Santa Fe National Forest. Rangers spotted in wilderness areas are likely there on a volunteer basis, or at best compensated with a per diem to cover their lunch.

Horseback volunteers are taking existing maps, GPS units and aerial photos into the San Pedro Parks Wilderness to update those maps to reflect the current trail system. Restoration of the Glorieta Baldy Lookout is underway in the hands of Friends of the Santa Fe National Forest, a 501(c)(3) organization gathering donations, grants and volunteers for the job, a task expected to come with a price tag just under $100,000.

Volunteer crews will likewise be responsible for all trail maintenance work. Where’s the greatest need? Drop your finger on the map, one staffer jokes. It’s everywhere.

“The only way we’ll be able to provide sustainable recreation opportunities into the future is to continue to increase our partnerships with local trail crews,” says James Melonas, forest supervisor.

The public doesn’t just own the Santa Fe National Forest; they’re responsible for its upkeep, too. How it’s managed for decades to come—what areas become wilderness, where trails are built, and which of its many uses guide maintenance—is up for discussion right now in the years-long process of drafting a new forest plan.

Santa Fe National Forest’s lone law enforcement officer hikes hikes a road near where illegal off-road vehicle use has been reported.
“Our forest plan revision work … is really charting the course for the future of the Santa Fe National Forest and how it fits into the community and how we move forward with our restoration on the forest,” Melonas says. “A big piece of that is our recreation program—how do we make sure that we have a good framework and a blueprint for how we’re going to provide sustainable recreation going into the future? It’s a big deal.”

The areas around the Jemez Ranger District and the Jemez National Recreation Area, the popular hiking trails in the Sangres just outside Santa Fe, as well as the Pecos River corridor are all being particularly scrutinized for the impact of recreation and whether the approach needs to shift.

“We want to be able to have different kind of tools in the tool box for how we are working with our partners and the community to be thoughtful about recreation, trails and maintenance,” he says.

The plan is supposed to guide how the service manages its forests, grasslands and riparian areas, maintains resiliency in ecosystems, and balances the wants and needs of various stakeholders (like ranchers and recreationalists). The strategies in the existing 30-year-old plan are now out of date, given current science and technology, including those enabling new forms of recreation (mountain biking of the 1980s, for example, aligns only in spirit with biking today). In particular, the agency is examining which of the tens of thousands of acres inventoried as potential wilderness could be added to the Pecos, Chama River Canyon, or San Pedro Parks wildernesses. A patchwork halo of inventoried acres surrounds each of those wilderness areas, but any recommendation the Forest Service makes is just a recommendation, and would require Congressional action to finalize.

The Forest Service has hosted roughly 126 meetings to discuss the plan and its various components with the public.

“There is less conflict than you might believe because people are openly talking about what their interests are,” says Bill Zunkel, president of Friends of the Santa Fe National Forest, a nonprofit working on projects to help support the forest, of his experience at meetings to discuss the plan. “A lot of people carry around ideas in their head about what ‘those people’ are like—what the ATV people are like or what horse people on trails are like or what the people who want to cut trees for lumber or mine or graze are like. And once they get into a room and see each other as humans, it decompresses that.”

Which is not to say that the various interested parties don’t still see this as a high-stakes game—ask the mountain bikers concerned about trails closing to them if wilderness areas expand.

Comments on the Forest Service’s draft on focus areas jointly filed by Western Environmental Law Center and water conservation organization Amigos Bravos point out that climate change exacerbates the existing impacts to these landscapes from ecological and community stressors such as poorly managed roads and livestock grazing. The forest, they say, should function as a carbon sink; whether it achieves that hinges on how these acres are managed.

The leading goal for the Forest Service, Melonas says, is in returning fire to the landscape before catastrophic wildfires occur, and restoring riparian areas to preserve water resources. The agency also aims to transition to a model that recruits multiple partners and tackles a series of projects that address landscape-wide issues: The Southwest Jemez Collaborative Landscape Restoration Project is billed as an example of the kind of work they hope to do. Partners from the Forest Service, Valles Caldera National Preserve, Jemez Pueblo, the Forest Guild, the Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited and WildEarth Guardians are working together to address the needs of 210,000 acres in the upper Jemez River watershed, which include thick understories, erosion and invasive species.

“We want to take that model of Southwest Jemez, and take what we’ve learned from that and apply to other parts of the forest,” Melonas says. “What we want to get away from is kind of doing these one-off, small projects here and there, because the stressors and issues we’re dealing with are working at a much broader scale.”

A partnership model is similarly being deployed to address the Greater Santa Fe Fireshed, a 110,000-acre area that’s being treated to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.

“One of the purposes of the coalition is to not just plan, but to find places to actually implement things that are ready to go,” says Sandy Hurlocker, Española district ranger. Those tasks will likely start with two smaller-scale projects near the Tesuque Pueblo and Hyde Memorial State Park.

Hurlocker’s district includes Ski Santa Fe, and this year, he’s once again dealing with cattle moving from their neighboring grazing allotment onto the ski area, where they’re not supposed to be.

“We’re kind of at a loss for figuring out how they’re getting there, because the fence is up and the cattle guards we think are working,” he says. “It’s just one of those deals where the cattle know how to get around, especially when they have something as munchable as the grass up in the ski area. … We don’t have a great solution right now.”

Pecos/Las Vegas District Ranger Steve Romero was in the field recently following up on reports of illegal off-road vehicle use near the watershed boundary.

“The public pointing out some of these issues to us [helps], because obviously, we can’t be everywhere at once,” he says.

He’s pinpointing issues and identifying hotspots for the law enforcement officer who will start covering his district late this year, one of two new to the Santa Fe National Forest. The tricky part then is catching violators in the act.

Citizen reports have called attention to cattle crossing into forbidden territory, and to the trees cut to create backcountry ski runs near Ski Santa Fe. The cattle can be moved back to their range, but the tip about illegal logging came too late.

“By the time we really got tipped off, it was a pretty cold trail,” Hurlocker says. “The closer to real time, the better.”

A draft of the plan is due out in early 2018; public meetings and a comment period will follow.

Grayed Anatomy

New Mexico’s health care community looks to infuse youth into an aging population of doctors

Local NewsWednesday, July 19, 2017 by Matt Grubs

There’s a trope about old, small-town doctors who answer the phone at two in the morning and work well into their 70s tending to pregnant mothers, croupy babies and workplace mishaps. In New Mexico, it rings true.

For the past two years, the state has led the nation in the percentage of doctors age 60 or older. It’s not even close. The Association of American Medical Colleges says almost 36 percent of the state’s doctors are in that category. New Mexico beats the national average by more than 20 percent. When the AAMC’s next glimpse at the physician workforce is released this fall, the state will find out if it’s found a cure for a systemic problem in the medical community.

From health care systems to medical schools to small towns, New Mexico has been trying to retain older doctors long enough to recruit younger ones. An aging population of doctors has to treat an aging general population that needs more medical providers, and states are competing against one another for a limited pool of docs. That’s a particularly acute challenge in rural states.

“It certainly seems that physicians in rural communities don’t wish to retire, in many cases, until they can find their replacement,” says Dr. Richard Larson, the executive vice chancellor at New Mexico’s only public medical school. “For most doctors, medicine is a calling. And they really don’t want to let their community down.”

The University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center, where Larson works, has a nationally recognized family and community medicine program. But the school enrolled 102 students in its latest class and graduated just 88. Many of those graduates will leave the state.

Larson and his colleagues work hard to come up with innovative solutions to attract and keep younger doctors in New Mexico. That starts with residencies. New doctors are much more open to moving to a small town if they’ve already worked in one. In Hobbs, the university worked with the JF Maddox Foundation to build simple homes for medical residents. Within a year, Larson tells SFR, three new primary care providers were in town.

One of the biggest challenges is combating the loneliness that can come from being one of a handful of doctors in a smaller town. Larson says working with a community to provide a social network for doctors and spouses is a must for retaining younger medical providers.

Yet, the University of New Mexico can only churn out so many doctors. At some point, the state needs to find a way to attract younger physicians from elsewhere. That job falls to health care systems, and Presbyterian Medical Group is the state’s largest.

“The problem is not that we have too many older doctors, it’s that we don’t have enough younger doctors. Older doctors are OK,” Dr. David Arredondo, executive medical director for Presbyterian, tells SFR.

While the numbers aren’t as striking when it comes to doctors under age 40, New Mexico ranks near the bottom of the AAMC physician workforce survey. Just 13.7 percent of the state’s physicians are on the fairer side of 40. Only seven states have a lower rate.

To get younger doctors here, Presbyterian leans on the state’s climate, culture and outdoor opportunities. It also sells its network of hospitals, an insurance program and a medical group. “Most physicians now are seeking employment within a health care system, which is different than it used to be,” he says. Medicine has gotten more complex, and having a support system in place can be a big factor in where a doctor decides to practice.

But Arredondo says he’s always competing for a piece of a pie that just isn’t big enough. “This country does not train enough physicians to meet its needs,” he says.

Dr. George Mychaskiw, an osteopath and anesthesiologist, is the founding dean of the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine in Las Cruces. The private medical college isn’t technically a part of New Mexico State University, though its students are often affiliated with NMSU. He says the age of New Mexico’s physician population is one of the first things he learned about the state.

“The old doctors are part of the baby boom generation themselves. The number of elderly people in the US is exploding,” he tells SFR from his office. “You have this perfect storm of older people entering the health care system at a time when older doctors are retiring.”

At the same time, he says, more effective geriatric care means the medical community keeps people alive longer. There’s a ballooning need for medical care at a time when the country seems least prepared for it.

Mychaskiw says the college, which began its first classes last year, made a point of identifying an underserved border community in which to locate. Las Cruces, and New Mexico in general, fit the bill.

The college, which awards degrees after a four-year program and follows that up with internships and residencies, plans to enroll 162 students each year. It graduates its first class in 2020. It’s a step in the right direction, but it comes at a time when New Mexico needs to make a leap.

“You could put 10 medical schools in the area,” says Mychaskiw, “and it still wouldn’t be enough.”

This article has been updated to correct the name of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Wet Noodles

Adult-themed company now owns old Mu Du Noodles restaurant

Local NewsTuesday, July 18, 2017 by Aaron Cantú

A company that operates adult-themed stores in New Mexico and Texas is trying to open up shop at 1494 Cerrillos Road, formerly the location of Mu Du Noodles. But no one with the business would agree to tell SFR exactly what kind of shop. 

Harris News Inc., whose address is in Dallas, owns three adult-themed businesses in Albuquerque—Adult Video, Viewpoint Adult Video and Big Eye—and at least one in Dallas. It obtained a deed to the former restaurant property near the intersection of Cerrillos and Second Street on April 18. 

The company is affiliated with Arcade News, an adult store located further south at 2821 Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe. Customers at Arcade News can purchase women’s lingerie, a wide assort of lubricants and sex toys, adult-themed media and tickets to private viewing booths. 

On our recent visit, a woman who identified herself as the store manager told SFR she was in contact with workers at the 1494 Cerrillos location, where we stopped first, but said any questions about its operations would have to be directed to the workers there.  

“I have two words for you: Free advertising,” the woman cryptically tells SFR. “I’ve heard a lot of funny rumors about what’s opening up there. I’m not involved with it.”

Mu Du shut its doors after 23 years last August, but neighbors say the kitchen equipment didn’t leave the building until this summer. In recent weeks, the building appeared to be under renovation, and packages of women’s sexy-time clothes could be seen sitting on racks inside.  A man wearing a sleeveless shirt inside the shop shook his head and laughed when asked about the possibility of an adult bookstore opening at the location, and declined to take more questions. 

SFR couldn’t reach Abram Deleon, whom state records identify as Harris News’ registered agent, or John A Coil, its director. 

City officials don’t have much information about the shop either. 

“We’re hearing a lot of rumors about that property, and I need some confirmation because I’m getting calls from city councilors asking what’s going on,” Land Use Department Director Lisa Martinez tells SFR.

Mike Purdy, the director of the city’s inspections and enforcement division, writes in an email that an employee of Harris News named Joe Canales told him the business would be be a women’s clothing store.  Some neighbors say that men at the location described it an adult bookstore. City records show no one has sought a certificate of occupancy or a business license, both of which would be required for a new business. 

Since last Friday, after visits from reporters, city officials and neighbors, somebody hung a T-shirt on the front door of the building that can be seen through a plate of glass. “BAH FUCKING HUMBUG,” the shirt reads.

That kind of attitude worries Peter Olson, who lives about a block away from the business. He says workers have removed a railing and chipped away one of the concrete steps in front of the business so that a ramp could be connected between the back of a moving truck and the front door, where he observed workers hauling kitchen equipment out of the building. 

Olson believes the apparent plan to open an adult-themed store within 1,000 feet of a district zoned for residential use— as well as near to two youth-centered entities (the Santa Fe Indian School and ¡Youthworks!) and a city park—violates city rules for sexually oriented businesses. 

“To me [it] sends a message these people either don’t care about that or are trying to do something sneaky,” Olson tells SFR. “It causes me to wonder how far will they go pushing the limits on this.”

In the past, Harris News has pushed limits in similar ways. 

In 1998, the company filed a federal lawsuit against the New Mexico city Sunland Park to prevent the town from shutting down its business there. Officials said that Adult Video, which straddled the Texas-New Mexico border, sat too close to a residential area.

The parties settled and the store agreed to limit its advertising. But the town later took renewed legal action, this time in a state court, after Adult Video provided nude dancing on its premises and displayed a truck with the words “Adult Video” in its parking lot, which was located in El Paso. 

A district court agreed that Harris News had broken its obligations and granted the town’s injunction ordering the closure of Adult Video, but a decision by the Court of Appeals in 2005 reversed that order. The New Mexico Supreme Court upheld that ruling.

Across the country, similar businesses have launched aggressive legal fights in federal court to undermine local ordinances.

“Cities often don’t want adult bookstores in their neighborhoods or even their cities, but unfortunately for them, they can’t just ban them because of the First Amendment,” says Stephen G Peters, an attorney in El Paso who represented Harris News against Sunland Park in state court. “The city council members, they’re not usually First Amendment specialists, and the rules are pretty complex—and so often the ordinances that are seeking to restrict sexually oriented businesess often overreach. And the remedy for that is usually a lawsuit under the federal civil rights act.”

Adult Video remains at the same location in Sunland Park today.

Picture More People Outdoors

Shifting who sees themselves in outdoor rec is one step toward saving the planet

The EnthusiastWednesday, July 19, 2017 by Elizabeth Miller

When Len Necefer, who grew up in the Navajo Nation, told his friends he had started to do more outdoors than mend fences and herd sheep, their responses sometimes came down to: “Rock climbing? That’s what white people do.”

Scroll through Instagram and it’s easy to confirm that image. Punch in #climbing and the results are a lot of white faces. Necefer saw that as fix worth tackling, so he started the account @NativesOutdoors to diversify that stream. The photographs show them shredding steep powder, holding up a fish so long it requires both hands or clusters of freshly gathered sage, or just perched on an overlook in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Posts include comments on what these natural places mean to them—sustenance from fishing, peace and quiet, or the place to ski for the 84th day in a row.

“I was thinking it would be pretty small,” Necefer says. “I didn’t know what to expect because I didn’t know too many other Native people who were doing what I was doing or were interested in the things I was interested in.”

But it has blossomed to a bustling 4,500 followers, many of whom are from Canada’s First Nations, and some are Indigenous people as far away as northern Russia. His goal is to fuel conversations about public lands that shift how Natives are viewed and view themselves in the outdoors.

Necefer credits his time at the United World College, with its campus in Las Vegas right on the edge of the Pecos Wilderness, for igniting his drive for outdoor recreation. He has since made technical ascents of Colorado’s peaks.

“Prior to that, I spent a lot of my time outdoors fixing fences, herding sheep, farming—that sort of stuff,” he says. “Climbing on rocks and hiking around was more of just a means to an end to do this stuff, so I never really related to outdoor rec in a big way.”

That’s typical to his experience with Natives—they spend a lot of time outdoors, often as part of a lifestyle that still very much depends on the land for food. For them, he says, the boundaries blur between hiking and hunting, or boating and fishing.

“There’s this inherent connection to the land through hunting and fishing, and also through recreation,” he says. “In the larger scheme of the public lands debate … you kind of see divisions between hunters and anglers and people who do outdoor rec, such as climbing and biking—and the thing is, within the Native community, that division does not exist.”

Courtesy Cory Witherill
It has the potential to uproot the notion that we have less in common than in difference. There’s political power in there, he argues, when it comes to preserving the future. So, too, is there a means to ease some of the wounds of the past. National parks were often created at the expense of Indigenous people, who were relocated to make space for icons like Yellowstone and Yosemite.

“The imagery of a Native person outdoors has been really sort of empowering for a lot of people, just kind of claiming space where historically we have been excluded,” he says.

Though 90 percent of national parks are within 100 miles of a reservation, just 3 to 5 percent of park rangers are from tribes. He contends there’s an opportunity for an affection for outdoor recreation to turn into not just play, but work, and a way to make a living and stay near their communities without turning to extractive industries like mining. To make space, however, the outdoor industry may need to show a little more respect for how Natives view outdoor spaces. Terms like “conquering” a mountain feel offensive, and the notion of climbing Shiprock, a sacred icon on the Navajo landscape, is downright blasphemous. Questions of disposable time and income to spend on these activities are part of much larger issues, but imagining more minorities outdoors is a start.

Necefer is not alone in the effort, working alongside groups like Outdoor Afro and fellow Instagrammer @BrownGirlsClimb. He’s been speaking at events on getting more minorities outdoors in Albuquerque and Denver, and will again at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Utah at the end of July. A preponderance of people of color appeared in the latest REI catalog—he knows. He counted. The hope is that shifting the visuals pays off in much bigger ways.

“It’s going to be important that all communities have access to the outdoors, because if anything happens, they’ll have a stake in the environment,” he says. In the face of unimaginably huge problems like the climate ticking warmer, ever closer to cooking off our current way of life, or plastic waste turning to soup in the ocean, he says, “Getting outdoors and being in nature gives people something to relate to about why that’s important.”

Milad Persian Bistro

Kabob all day every day, except Monday

Food WritingWednesday, July 19, 2017 by Michael J Wilson

Late-night eating in Santa Fe is pretty skimpy on choices. It’s just one of those accepted things: You eat before 9 pm, you finish your drinks by 10 pm. The list of places worth going to that are also open after that can be counted on one hand. Even for a city the size of Santa Fe, this is pretty disappointing.

In November of last year, chef Neema Sadeghi added a new eatery to the late-night list with Milad Persian Bistro (802 Canyon Road, 303-3581). Nestled between El Farol and Geronimo, Milad opens at 11 am and closes at 10 pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday. But Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the contemporary Persian cuisine flows until midnight! That makes this the latest place to get a bite in town that isn’t a bar or fast food, though the restaurant is closed Mondays.

My good friend Joie and I like to go out for late food and drinks whenever we are both in town and she suggested the new spot since neither of us had tried it. As we arrived, a storm brewed over the mountains and thunder echoed around the street. People eating on the nearby Tea House patio looked nervous. We opted for a comfy window seat.

The space is cozy, with only about 10 tables inside and maybe five more outside; Milad seats roughly 30 people. This is not a negative—cozy is good. The old adobe sits on a corner and once you enter, it feels like a nurtured space. Sadeghi has taken the time to lightly decorate the one room with artwork by local painter Sepideh Majd, and the effect is one of eating in a gallery or a home dining room; you’ve entered a curated environment.

This carries over into waitstaff and menu. It may seem like a small detail, but the staff all seemed to want to be there. It’s easy to tell when a place isn’t fun to work at, and it always changes the experience for me when I see that in the staff of a restaurant.

The menu features a substantial list of small plates and a small but thought-out selection of larger kabob plates (they spell it this way; it’s closer to the original Urdu spelling). The wine list is plentiful, and there are draft beers available as well. Most of the small plates are vegetarian and a veg kabob is also available.

The small plate trend is one that I go back and forth on. It’s a great way to try different options and share among friends, but the portions never fill you up. It’s an excuse for many restaurants to just charge a bit more for a bit less.

First Impressions:

  • Milad has taken a different approach to their small plates. The portions are worth the price.
  • This place is open late. This is the best first impression it could give.

Opting for gluttony, we ordered the ta’chin ($9) and carrot falafel ($8) plates to share. Ta’chin is best described as a layered saffron rice and chicken cake that is crisped on the outside. It was topped with barberries and onion. The falafel was portioned into small, two-bite balls that sat on a creamy cilantro yogurt. I ordered doogh ($5) to drink. It’s an unsweetened yogurt soda that is great when eating spicy or rich foods. Joie got a glass of Martín Códax Ergo Tempranillo ($9).

The crispness of the outer layer of the ta’chin reminded me of hash browns. It was good, but the chicken was oddly bland despite being cooked perfectly. The barberries added all of the flavor to the dish and there was a sweet citric layer that was definitely needed for balance.

The falafel was amazing. Rich and creamy on the inside, just enough sweetness from the carrot to balance the kick of serrano pepper, it was hard to not eat them all in one go. Yogurt is so good in savory dishes, and here it added a light cooling note.

For the main course we each got a kabob. I ordered the barg ($18), a beef tenderloin marinated in garlic and saffron. I got mine cooked medium. Joie got the jujeh chicken kabob ($14), marinated in yogurt and served with a lemon wedge.

First Impressions:

  • The kabobs all come with rice, a charred tomato and a small cucumber salad—it makes for a full plate.
  • The beef was tender and flavorful, with a decent amount of char on it. I like my beef with a bit more of a crust, but the marinade was rich enough to make up for this. Joie’s chicken was perfectly cooked and the combination of the yogurt and lemon was spot-on.
  • The cucumber salad was tangy and fresh. The rice was buttery and surprisingly rich in saffron flavor. Most people go light on this expensive spice.

For dessert we had feta-stuffed dates ($6). The dates were drenched in honey and served hot. We didn’t finish them, but this says more about how much we had stuffed ourselves than the taste of the dish. They were incredibly rich and a perfect finish to the night. The rain started a few minutes later.

A Moral Choice

As pressure mounts, faith sustains veteran New Mexico doctor who provides rare third-trimester abortions

FeaturesWednesday, July 19, 2017 by Joey Peters

If Curtis Boyd lives by one professional mantra, it’s this: Unless a woman has full autonomy over her body, she lacks full citizenship and lives instead as a second-class citizen.

The controversial and celebrated abortion provider explains this thoughtfully on a hot, dry Fourth of July day in his Albuquerque office. A wiry man of 80 years, Boyd wears a gray surgical gown and says he’s working the holiday because the type of procedure that his clinic, Southwestern Women’s Options, is known for requires multiple days.

The clinic sits near I-25 on Lomas Boulevard, a crowded east-west thoroughfare on the edge of downtown Albuquerque. Across the street looms a pink billboard paid for by the group Prolife Across America. “Save the babies, heartbeat 18 days,” pleads the text. An infant’s chubby face peers out at passersby, a reminder of the ire against Southwestern Women’s Options even on days when no protesters show up.

Boyd speaks softly with a twinge of an accent that betrays the small east Texas town where he grew up. He sits on a leather chair in a corner room, away from where he and four other doctors perform surgical procedures.

A bookshelf includes dry medical encyclopedias and clinical contraception manuals, political titles and books that indicate his profession.

Boyd is a Christian; he says his spiritual background informs his work. Early in life, he was ordained as a Baptist minister. After medical school and residency, he became a Unitarian Universalist. In his medical practice, he chose to support women.

“Our role is to help her make a decision in the grace of God that she can live with,” Boyd tells SFR and NM Political Report in a rare, in-depth interview.

His work performing abortions stretches to the pre-Roe v. Wade days of the late 1960s, when he practiced illegally in the unwelcoming confines of small-town and big-city Texas. Pressure, real and perceived, from the law drove him away and into liberal Santa Fe, where a more tolerant citizenry welcomed his work in 1972, just a year before the Supreme Court granted abortion as a fundamental right.

Boyd soon repoened a clinic in Dallas and in 1985, opened an additional clinic in Albuquerque. The Santa Fe location closed in 1993.

Dr. Curtis Boyd, circa 1990, provided abortion services in Santa Fe between the ‘70s and ‘90s. He now runs clinics in Albuquerque and Dallas.
Edward Vidinghoff, Palace of the Governors Photo Archives
Boyd isn’t a typical abortion provider. Since 2010, his Albuquerque clinic has offered abortions for women during the third trimester of pregnancy, a procedure performed at only a handful of other clinics nationwide.

His practice draws an intense, emotional response from the anti-abortion community, making Southwestern Women’s Options one of the most scrutinized abortion clinics in the country and New Mexico ground zero in the abortion wars.

Despite a failed Albuquerque citywide ballot initiative in 2013 that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, two of the architects of that effort say they’re focusing anew on shutting down Boyd’s clinic. A yearslong legislative effort to limit abortion access shows no signs of abating, despite repeated failures to pass a bill for the governor’s signature.

Last year, a controversial congressional subcommittee scrutinized Southwestern Women’s Options amid a deeper dive into fetal tissue donation and research practices throughout the country. The investigation led to a lawsuit against the clinic over fetal tissue donation to the University of New Mexico and a request for a criminal investigation by state Attorney General Hector Balderas. The third-year AG, a Democrat, took up the case, and his office says an investigation is still ongoing.

All this comes as the national Democratic Party flirts with softening its support for abortion rights and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who many view as the key swing vote generally in favor of abortion rights, is rumored to consider retirement.

Boyd, who is nearing the end of his career, knows this. “We have a long struggle ahead of us,” he says.

Boyd began performing abortions in 1968, five years before the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion throughout the nation.

At the time, he was providing the service in his hometown of Athens, Texas. With each procedure, he risked jail time and his medical license.

His patients came primarily through referrals from a network of clergy that had assembled an underground railroad of sorts to clinics willing to perform abortions before it was legal—the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion.

Among its members was Carl Boaz, at the time an assistant minister at First Presbyterian Church in Richardson, Texas. In an interview, he says he always supported “a woman’s right to decide what she should do with her body.”

The Rev. Carl Boaz was an early member of the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion.
courtesy of the Rev. Carl Boaz
Boaz also heard “horror stories” about women who suffered after abortions at unsafe places in the 1960s.

“They had no one to talk to who really gave a damn about who they were as a child of God,” Boaz says. “So it was important for me to provide a context that was non-judgmental, that was open to dealing with whatever emotions were prevalent.”

Boyd signed on as one of the group’s doctors. The ministers needed the help; they often weren’t familiar with basic medical information about abortions.

Word spread quickly about Boyd’s Athens practice. Boaz believes Boyd and others weren’t discreet enough—though caution may have not been enough to prevent the coming crackdown. As Boyd tells it, clients drove to his clinic in Volkswagen cars—symbols of the hippie counterculture. That was more than enough to draw attention from authorities, especially in a small Texas town of fewer than 10,000 people.

Soon, Boyd noticed police cars sitting outside his clinic.

“I think they believed I was dealing in drugs,” he says.

On the advice of one of his nurses, Boyd moved his practice to Dallas, where the big-city atmosphere might be more accommodating to his profession.

He didn’t find it to be much different. After all, the Dallas district attorney, Henry Wade, became the defendant in the lawsuit that would eventually lead to the 1973 Supreme Court decision that shaped modern abortion access in the United States. Sometimes, Boyd grew paranoid when he saw a police car.

He set his sights on New Mexico, where the state allowed women to seek abortions for psychiatric reasons. While more lenient than Texas, Boyd still saw the law as demeaning: Women were essentially forced to tell a psychiatrist they were depressed and suicidal to have any chance of getting a legal abortion.

“They shouldn’t have to do that; it’s sort of humiliating,” Boyd says. “But at least it was legal.”

He opened a clinic near Atalaya Mountain on Santa Fe’s east side. The city, he says, had “new-age draw” where “all the hip people were.” To him, it was “the mecca.”

“No one harassed me,” he says. “We did our work.”

At the time, the Roe v. Wade case headed to the Supreme Court. President Nixon had just appointed four conservatives to the high court, tilting its balance to the right. Boyd thought the case was doomed.

But the court ruled in favor of abortion rights, 7-2. One of Nixon’s new appointees, Justice Harry Blackmun, even wrote the majority opinion, ruling, among other things, that states could not ban abortions up until the point that a fetus has a good chance of surviving outside the womb.

Today, that point differs according to a hospital’s resources, but it generally occurs around 24 weeks or more of pregnancy.

Federal law allows states to ban abortion procedures that take place beyond then. Forty-three states currently ban abortions at some point in the pregnancy, except in cases when the woman’s life or health is in danger, according to the Guttmacher Institute. New Mexico is among the seven states, plus Washington, DC, that have no restrictions.

Boyd says he was “astounded” by the court’s decision on Roe v. Wade.

“My nurse and my assistant, we just shouted, we were embracing each other, and I said, ‘Oh, thank God almighty, it’s over,’” he says.

But the buoyancy of the court victory didn’t last. In the decades since, Boyd has dealt with protesters picketing his office, chaining themselves to his surgical tables in protest, and hurling constant death threats at him and his colleagues.

“For me, the worst has been since abortion was legalized,” he says.

Boyd insists that federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the US Marshals Service have been more willing to help clinics against threats of violence under Democratic administrations. “We had names to call, telephone numbers to call [of federal authorities] if we had any problem,” he says.

As soon as Donald Trump became president, Boyd says that stopped again. “As always, it’s politics,” he says.

The faith community is as heavily divided on the abortion issue as the political community. Bud and Tara Shaver, a Christian couple who describe their strong-willed advocacy against abortion as a calling from God, represent the face of Boyd’s opposition, an ever-present foil.

A billboard reminds drivers where the anti-abortion group Prolife Across America stands.
Andy Lyman 

The couple met at a Bible college, got married and moved to Arizona. Ten years ago, they made it their lives’ work to end abortion. The pledge came in a prayer on the drive back home from a Christian music festival. Tara had just visited a booth for Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, an anti-abortion group known for using public displays of large signs of bloody fetuses as a protest tactic to bear witness to what it calls the “sin of abortion.”

Before reading a pamphlet from Survivors, Tara says the abortion issue never really registered with her or her husband.

Of Survivors, she says, “their whole focus is kind of recruiting people who were born after 1973 and really casting the vision that if you were born after that time, you survived abortion.”

The Shavers are among those born after Roe v. Wade was decided, and for them, the mission was clear. They moved to Wichita, Kansas, to organize against George Tiller, a doctor who performed abortions through the third trimester of gestation. They joined Operation Rescue, another controversial group that uses protest tactics similar to Survivors.

In 2009, a man named Scott Roeder shot Tiller to death as Tiller attended a Wichita church service. Operation Rescue denounced the murder and denied Roeder was a member of the group. Investigators found the phone number of Operation Rescue’s then-senior policy advisor, Cheryl Sullenger, on a piece of paper in Roeder’s car.

The Southwestern Women’s Options clinic in Albuquerque isn’t always this quiet.
Courtesy Google, DigitalGlobe
Sullenger, now the group’s senior vice president, has her own past controversies. She served two years in prison in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s after pleading guilty to conspiracy for her involvement in the botched 1987 bombing of a California abortion clinic.

Tara defends Operation Rescue for “always denouncing violence” and protesting Tiller’s practice for 10 years in a way that focused on “peaceful, legal action.” “It’s just kind of the scapegoat,” she tells SFR and NM Political Report. “People want to look at some organization or someone to blame.”

Boyd describes Tiller as a dear friend with whom he had worked for years. At the time of Tiller’s death, the National Abortion Federation encouraged clinics already practicing second-trimester abortions to expand into third-trimester abortions. Boyd helped establish the federation, a trade association of sorts for abortion providers. His wife, Glenna Halvorson-Boyd, once served as its president.

“Glenna and I got together one evening,” Boyd says. “We had just been looking at each other, thinking about the same thing. We said, ‘We need to do this. We need to carry on this work that George was doing.’”

They soon hired two doctors who had worked with Tiller and specialized in the practice to come and work in their Albuquerque clinic.

As this happened, the Shavers came to New Mexico with the goal of shutting down Boyd’s newly expanded practice. The couple allied with Fr. Stephen Imbarrato, a priest and then-director of Project Defending Life, and have since pushed a variety of anti-abortion efforts and causes. In 2013, they worked on a ballot initiative in Albuquerque that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. Voters rejected it by a 10-point margin.

The Shavers now work with Abortion Free New Mexico, which focuses on using tactics outlined in a 2014 Operation Rescue manual that include undercover work to “bring accountability” to abortion.

The Shavers see no difference between abortions performed earlier and later in a pregnancy; they say both are equally wrong. Their decision to focus on the latter is a political one.

“Late-term abortion is something we can use to kind of get people to think more clearly and scientifically and logically about what actually happens in an abortion procedure,” Tara says.

Public support for these types of abortions varies. A Marist poll from 2014, for example, showed that six in 10 respondents favored banning abortions after 20 weeks. But a STAT News and Harvard University poll last year found the same number of respondents favored access to abortion after 24 weeks in cases of fetal anomalies like microcephaly, a birth defect.

Boyd says he sees patients “who are dying if they do not get the abortion, women who have severe congenital defects.”

Boyd gave a rare interview, dressed in his scrubs and working on the July 4 holiday.
Andy Lyman
“Women don’t have late-term abortions for frivolous reasons,” he says. “They don’t just get up one morning and say, ‘I’m tired of this pregnancy. I’ll call Dr. Boyd and get an abortion.’ They go through an ethical decision-making process. They’re trying to figure out, ‘What is best for me, for my family, the children I have, the children I hope to have, for society?’”

These types of abortions are indeed rare. The most recent statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show procedures that happen after 20 weeks of gestation account for just 1.3 percent of all abortions in the United States. (The CDC reported roughly 700,000 abortions total for 2012, the year studied). More than 91 percent of abortions happen in the first 13 weeks of gestation, while more than 65 percent happen in the first eight weeks.

Pregnancies last around 38 to 40 weeks on average. The second trimester ends around week 28 of the pregnancy. The third trimester lasts until birth.

Southwestern Women’s Options advertises that it provides abortions for women through the 28th week of pregnancy. Any woman past 28 weeks of gestation seeking an abortion is admitted for procedures on a “case-by-case” basis, according to the clinic’s website.

Boyd calls performing such procedures a privilege and “a powerful experience.” Sometimes, his patients ask him to bless them and the fetus, which he does readily.

Because so few clinics opt to practice third-trimester abortions, Boyd’s clinic draws patients from outside New Mexico. Boyd attributes this to the lack of services available elsewhere. “I know our reputation,” he says.

So when he’s asked about what he thinks when he hears Albuquerque described as “the late-term abortion capital of the nation”—a term the Shavers take credit for coining—Boyd responds wryly.

“A great sense of pride,” he says.

The comment is tongue-in-cheek, but Boyd again gets serious defending what he describes as the dire importance of his work. New Mexico should be proud that it has a more open stance on women’s reproductive rights than most states, he argues.

“I value the pregnancy,” Boyd says. “The pregnant woman values the pregnancy. That’s not the point. She has to make that decision that, ‘My life and health might be at risk.’ Or, she may have to think, ‘I have a severely damaged baby and I need to take action to end this pregnancy. I’m not going to subject my family to this.’”

Regardless of the local anti-abortion groups, Boyd says he’s found New Mexico to be supportive of women’s reproductive rights—much more so than, say, Texas, where he says he experiences more protests and hostility at his Dallas clinic.

“New Mexico has strong women’s coalitions,” he says, including groups like Young Women United and local chapters of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the National Organization for Women and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Joan Lamunyon Sanford, who heads the New Mexico Religious Coalition, traces her advocacy on the issue to being raised by independent-minded parents and brought up in the Methodist Church. Like Boaz, she says her advocacy for abortion rights boils down to economic, racial and social justice. Even if abortion becomes illegal, the privileged will have access to it if they want.

“It’s a common thread across faith traditions that we’re called to care for the people who live among the margins,” Lamunyon Sanford says. “Our abortion funding is a call to access.”

Yet resistance is strong where it exists. A handful of protesters flock to the Albuquerque clinic on a regular basis. Santa Fe lost its lone surgical abortion provider when she retired in 2011, although the city’s Planned Parenthood clinic offers misoprostol, sometimes known as the “abortion pill.” A few protesters can occasionally be seen outside its St. Michael’s Drive office.

Each year, the state Legislature hears a slew of bills to limit abortion access, among them a ban on all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Those proposals, which feature impassioned testimony from both sides of the debate every year during the committee process, have never made it to the governor’s desk. Some did, however, pass the state House of Representatives multiple times when Republicans controlled the chamber in 2015 and 2016.

Gov. Susana Martinez, now in her last year-and-a-half in office, signaled her support for the measures. And US Rep. Steve Pearce, the only Republican to so far announce a run for governor in 2018, has been vocal in his advocacy against abortion rights throughout his 13 years in Congress. Earlier this spring, Pearce joined Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who chaired the Select Panel on Infant Rights, in a small rally against UNM’s fetal tissue research practices.

Boyd would not comment directly on the lawsuit and attorney general’s investigation into his clinic regarding fetal tissue donation. In the lawsuit, a former patient alleges the clinic donated her fetal tissue without her consent. In legal filings, Boyd’s attorneys argue that the clinic’s fetal tissue donation is done with proper consent.

Near the end of a lengthy interview in his Albuquerque office, another anecdote comes to Boyd’s mind. It’s from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s 5-4 decision in the Supreme Court in 2007, upholding 2003’s Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Though he acknowledged no reliable data to back it up, Kennedy wrote that it seemed proper to assume that some women “come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained.”

“The philosophical question you have to ask Justice Kennedy: Does she get to regret her decision, or does she get to regret your decision that you’re forcing on her?” Boyd asks. “Where do you think the greater regret will lie, if she even has regret?”

He argues that the abortion debate comes down to a notion that has flowed through it like water for decades: choice.

“I don’t really advocate for anyone to have an abortion,” he says. “I advocate for the right for the woman to decide for herself whether she will continue that pregnancy or not.”

When Does Life Begin?

Among the major disagreements in the abortion debate is when life begins. Dr. Curtis Boyd explains that different schools—biology, religion, law and philosophy—lead to different answers. The problem, says Boyd, a family medicine doctor who performs abortions, is that people often confuse and conflate the different disciplines.

“Biological life begins at conception,” he says. “In fact the sperm is alive and the egg is alive before they unite. When they unite, they’re still alive, but now they’re developing in a different station. That’s biological.”

The beginning of life is interpreted in different ways in different cultures. But in our culture, personhood “has always” begun at birth, Boyd emphasizes, and this has been the basis legally as well.

“Birth is when you take a breath of life,” he says. “You’re born when you leave the woman’s body and take a breath of life. Then you have achieved personhood.”

That concept is even biblical, Boyd explains, describing the belief that ensoulment occurs with the first breath outside of the womb. The Rev. Carl Boaz, an ally of Boyd, also cites God breathing life into Adam as the beginning of humanity.

Anti-abortion activist Bud Shaver begins with the biological explanation.

“If you can scientifically say that abortion does take the life of a human being, then you can morally say that it is wrong to take the life of an innocent human being, therefore abortion is wrong,” he says. “Then you can have your moral foundation.”

Shaver describes Boyd bringing his religious beliefs into his practice as “an emotional manipulation of spirituality.”

Boyd, however, argues that such a vision against abortion access is “somewhat lacking in Christian generosity and compassion.”

“For me, you can value pregnancy and you can value the women simultaneously, and you can respectfully bring that pregnancy to an end, still valuing the fetus and respecting the fetus,” Boyd says. “And we do that every day.”

This story was reported in collaboration with the NM Political Report, where Joey Peters is a staff writer.

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