El Paso pro-life community has two new Stork Buses on the road
By Brittany Smith
A baby who died in 2011 is saving lives today.
Nine years ago, Live Action investigative reporter Gaby Federico got a call asking her to come to El Paso’s Hilltop Family Planning Clinic, a local abortion provider. The man who called her said he lived next door to the abortion provider and his dog had discovered fetal remains outside of the clinic.
At around 9 a.m. on Good Friday morning, Federico arrived and confirmed what the man and his dog found was indeed fetal remains. They included two dismembered legs with feet (the size of a dime) and a severed hand.
A few hours later police and a medical examiner arrived to interview Hilltop employees and investigate.
According to Live Action News, “Police differed slightly in their estimation, telling local KFOX-14 that the unborn child was between 9 – 12 weeks gestation. Hilltop offers abortion up to 15 weeks, and since abortion is legal, police say they will not investigate further.”
Health Department officials took the remains and Hilltop employees told police and news outlets they had nothing to do with it, stating they “dispose of bodies properly.”
Many in the pro-life community in El Paso, Texas wanted to have a burial for the child, but the Health Department refused. So they held a memorial instead and named the child Joseph Thomas as a way to honor his life.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Just last week, a Stork Bus arrived in El Paso, now owned and operated by Southwest Coalition for Life, a pro-life sidewalk advocacy group.
The bus’s name? Joseph Thomas.
“This Stork Bus is now going to be operating outside of the same clinic where Joseph Thomas was found,” said Mark Cavaliere, executive director for Southwest Coalition for Life. “He will help women get connected to pregnancy resource centers that can save lives and his life will always be remembered in the community.”
From sidewalk advocacy to Stork Bus
In 2014, Cavaliere participated in a 40 Days for Life Campaign outside of an abortion clinic in Las Cruces, NM. 40 Days for Life is a campaign that works to end abortion through prayer and fasting. They also focus on community outreach and vigils in front of abortion clinics
Through this campaign, Cavaliere met people from an organization called The Coalition for Life where he learned about sidewalk advocacy. Fast-forward two years later and he started El Paso’s first Coalition for Life group. Through their advocacy, they were able to shut down the abortion clinic in Las Cruces. While this was a definite win, he realized women would now travel across the state border to El Paso for an abortion instead.
“We realized we needed something free and immediate when talking to women. So we started thinking about a mobile unit,” he said.
His group started fundraising and earlier this month, on Sept. 10, Joseph Thomas arrived in El Paso.
In addition to The Coalition for Life’s bus, another pro-life group in El Paso also received their bus on the same day as Cavaliere’s group — and they had a joint celebration.
The second bus, Jeremiah, is owned and operated by Pregnancy and Fatherhood Solutions, a PRC located in El Paso. The bus is named after Jeremiah Thomas, a 16-year-old Texan who was diagnosed with cancer. Shortly before he died, he was approved for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His wish was to end abortion and he asked for a phone call with Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
Cavaliere notes that these two buses will elevate the pro-life outreach in El Paso by bridging the gap between PRCs and women looking for help.
“PRCs are in the business of crisis management,” he said. “We [Sidewalk Advocates] want to help women manage the crisis. In order to do that, you need crisis intervention people on the sidewalk to connect the two. That’s where the bus comes in.”
Cavaliere said that having two buses has brought the pro-life community together.
“We understand that in order to reach people we have to be able to work together as pro-life people. Sometimes in pro-life work, we forget we’re part of a larger body. But in reality, we’re just a small part of this. We might not always see eye to eye, but we can come together and stand arm in arm for these children.”