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Activists claim 27,000 signatures for abortion ballot measure

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Activists say they’ve turned in more than 27,000 petition signatures in favor of a ballot measure to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

It’s now up to the Albuquerque city clerk’s office to check whether enough of the signatures are from valid registered voters. Supporters need 12,091 signatures to force the city to hold an election on the proposed ordinance.

Activists want the proposal on the Oct. 8 city ballot, when the mayor and six City Council seats are already going before voters.

The group turned in its latest batch of signatures to the clerk Thursday afternoon.


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“We’re completely blown away by the response of the community,” spokeswoman Tara Shaver told reporters.

Marcella Melendez of the Catholic Coalition of New Mexico said the number of signatures gathered so quickly makes “a big statement” about public support for the measure.

Earlier in the day, the American Civil Liberties Union of New mexico denounced the measure and said it would be struck down by the courts if passed.

“The extremely personal decision whether to have a safe, legal abortion belongs between a woman and her doctor,” said Alexandra Freedman Smith, staff attorney for the ACLU of New Mexico. “This organized effort is all about ignoring the personal circumstances of women and putting the government in the exam room where it doesn’t belong.”

The Southwest Women’s Law Center also criticized the proposal.

“The out-of-state organizations behind this ballot measure are out of touch with New Mexico,” said Pamelya Herndon, the center’s executive director.

City Councilor Trudy Jones, meanwhile, sent a letter to state Attorney General Gary King asking him whether the proposal would be “legally enforceable” if passed.

Shaver said she’s confident the ordinance would survive a court challenge.

— 20-week abortion ban may make ballot