Our current state law makes criminals out of health care providers.
In New Mexico, according to statute established half a century ago, it is a felony to perform an abortion.
Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court long ago rendered this backward, outdated state law unenforceable. The high court, in 1973, established a woman’s right to choose as the law of the land. The court made clear women have the absolute right to decide what they will do with their bodies, to make health care and family planning decisions for themselves, to not allow the state to meddle in and restrict their most private and personally sacred decisions.
This Supreme Court holding means the section of our state law making abortion a criminal act is unconstitutional, on top of being a dehumanizing slap in the face of a woman’s most basic rights, on top of criminalizing medical professionals.
I firmly support, have always supported and have made no secret about my support for excising this statute from our books. As governor, I have pledged to sign House Bill 51, which would do exactly that.
Not simply because it will align New Mexico with established law, although it does, and we should all be glad to right a constitutional wrong whenever we can.
I support decriminalizing abortion because I have every intention of leading a state that values women, that empowers women, that listens to women.
And I have every intention of recruiting additional medical professionals to New Mexico and retaining the excellent providers we already have, and I want them to know: I will fight to oppose any move to make you into a criminal for simply doing your work.
Elected officials have no business making a woman’s choices for her. Neither do faraway federal judges who have, in some cases, made a career out of antagonizing marginalized groups, not the least of all women.
The decision to proceed with an abortion is never, ever made lightly. A woman must be free to consult with her family and her doctor; she must be free to make a decision that comports with her faith, her future, her individual situation, none of which is anyone else’s business, plain and simple.
Elected officials similarly have no business villainizing our medical professionals. A doctor must be free to make decisions in the best interest of his or her patients without fear.
As this bill moved recently through the House, opponents of the measure raised their complaints. Many called my office. There is, I’m afraid, a good deal of misinformation proliferating about the content of the bill. Opponents have expressed fear that, somehow, this legislation would facilitate murder. They argued the legislation would compel certain providers to perform abortions against their conscience. This is not true. Federal law will continue to accommodate this type of conscientious refusal. And this bill does nothing with regard to access to abortion; it simply ensures New Mexico will never play the draconian game of criminalizing a safe procedure women have every right to pursue.
This bill has been even-handedly debated by both sides. Indeed, more than half of the time of debate on the House floor was used by Republicans who oppose the measure. It’s only right opponents be heard. It’s always right to put New Mexico women first. It’s always right to value the diligent medical professionals who we trust with our lives. That’s what New Mexico will do, in this instance and every other, as long as I am your governor.