New Mexico lawmakers seek to prohibit local abortion bans

Jan 13, 2023, 4:04 PM | Updated: 4:07 pm

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Local governments across New Mexico would be prohibited from placing restrictions on abortion access under initiatives outlined by Democratic state legislators Friday.

A companion initiative aims to protect doctors who perform abortion and patients from harassment and investigations by out-of-state interests.

The two legislative proposals, still in the drafting stage, would shore up abortion rights across the Democratic-led state in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year that overturned Roe v. Wade and left legalization up to the states.

In 2021, New Mexico lawmakers repealed a dormant 1969 statute that outlawed most abortion procedures. But the city of Hobbs in the state’s southeast has adopted an ordinance designed to block abortion clinics from operating, and at least one nearby county has approved an anti-abortion resolution.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth of Santa Fe said the initiatives outlined Friday are a direct response.

The aim is to “prohibit public bodies, including local municipalities, from denying, restricting or discriminating against an individual’s right to use or refuse reproductive health care, or health care related to gender,” Wirth said.

State Sen. Linda Lopez said in a statement that she will sponsor a bill that would provide accountability for organizations that share personal medical information related to reproductive health care.

That builds on an executive order from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham barring cooperation with other states that might interfere with abortion access in New Mexico, including any possible arrest warrants or requests for assistance and information in seeking sanctions against local abortion providers.

Lujan Grisham won reelection in November while casting herself as a staunch defender of abortion access and vowing to channel $10 million in public funding toward the construction of a reproductive health care clinic in southern New Mexico that will offer the procedure.

Republicans in New Mexico’s legislative minority have characterized as extremist state laws that protect access to abortion at all stages of pregnancy.

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New Mexico lawmakers seek to prohibit local abortion bans