First in a series. This comes from an Aug. 27 story in the Imperial Valley Press.

About 25 protesters, mostly clad in white, chanted and waved signs outside Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez’s El Centro office Tuesday in protest of an abortion access bill he voted for that would expand the types of medical providers that could perform abortions.

Assembly Bill 154 by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, would allow nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants to provide first-trimester abortions. The bill passed the Senate and will return to the Assembly before going to the governor for approval.

“We want to express our disappointment to Mr. Pérez and educate the Imperial Valley about what possibly could happen if the governor signs this in to allow abortions to be done in this country,” said Father Edward Horning of St. Mary Catholic Church. “We are people who are in favor of life.”

There is not an abortion clinic in the Valley, and Horning said that the bill could allow medical providers to perform abortions locally.

Proponents of the bill believe it will ensure access to people in rural areas like the Valley early in the pregnancy since they wouldn’t have to wait to travel to areas that do have clinics like San Diego.

“We want people to give life a chance instead of getting an abortion. I work with women, men, families affected by this and they suffer greatly. They know they have stopped a life from continuing and I want to stop the pain that continues herein the Valley,” Horning said. “We want to stop the bloodshed before it ever happens.”

The protesters held signs with phrases on them like “Manuel Perez Shame on You for voting Yes on AB 154” and “Imperial Valley Pro-Woman, Pro-Children, Pro-Life.”

El Centro resident Margie Madueño was protesting Tuesday and said, “So many women live in silent pain and this is just going to make things worse.”

“I’ve lived here my whole life. It’s a wonderful community. We have good values and to bring in Planned Parenthood or anything like that is going to really hurt our community,” she said. “That’s not an answer. We’re not lifting up our women but knocking them down. I pray every day that it does not happen.”

Roughly 50 percent of California counties don’t have abortion providers, said Jennifer Coburn, director of communications for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, and without better access, people may delay the procedure later into the pregnancy, thereby making it more complicated.

Planned Parenthood is a co-sponsor of the bill.

“We support the right of these protesters to make their voices heard,” she added. “As long as they are peaceful and respectful that’s great that they are working to make their views known.”

Imperial resident Veronica Ramirez was also one of the people protesting Tuesday.

“Abortion carries a lot of spiritual wounds and also a lot of physical wounds,” she said.

She cited anger, depression, eating disorders, spasms and more as possible results of having an abortion. Ramirez said she had an abortion herself and kept it a secret for 15 years.

“I think if we pass a bill to no longer allow abortions at all, I think men and women will be protected from a lot of wounds,” she said. “Abortion kills and it’s not for our Valley.

Married with four children, she said she had her abortion “at a time I was not close to the Lord,” and has since changed her spiritual relationship.

The protesters chanted phrases in both English and Spanish on the side of Main Street for some time before marching closer to Pérez’s office.

“I understand this is a sensitive issue for many, as it is for me, but ultimately my decision was based on my support for women’s health and the importance of increasing access to health care. We know that safe and early access to legal reproductive health services improves women’s health,” Pérez wrote in a press statement. “This bill increases access to services by authorizing specially trained and licensed health professionals to provide early pregnancy termination services along with the range of other services they already provide.”

To read the entire story, click here.