It comes as a shock to no one that abortion rights are under attack in America. In 1973, the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, Roe v. Wade, guaranteed the right to an abortion until 26 weeks of gestation. In June the Supreme Court is poised to rule on a Mississippi law that will ban most abortions after 15 weeks of gestation. Given Justice Samuel Alito’s draft decision, most experts believe the court will uphold the Mississippi law, overturning Roe.
As of April 4, 23 states have laws that would restrict abortion if it was not constitutionally protected. Of those 23 states, 13 have laws that will ban most abortion if Roe is overturned.
What does this mean for New Mexicans? In 1969 New Mexico passed a statute that banned all abortion, with very limited exceptions. However, thanks to Roe this statute became unenforceable.
On Feb. 26, 2021, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 10, The Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act, into law – after a voter education push led by the ACLU.
This bill repealed New Mexico’s outdated abortion ban, reflecting New Mexico’s belief that legislators have no right to dictate our reproductive health.
The Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act is a reminder of why pro-choice efforts need to be led by activists and advocates. We know one thing is true: reproductive health care affects everyone within a community and protects the reproductive rights, benefits and many other social justice movements for all. SB 10 saw widespread support from a huge range of communities, varying from Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Asian, legal experts, LGBTQ+ and many more. We owe this victory to the diverse New Mexican population that continues to unite in the fight for human rights.
However, this is not enough to guarantee future abortion access for New Mexicans. There are currently 536 proposed laws aiming to restrict abortion across 42 states. We have seen many times that abortion rights can be obliterated in just one state legislative session. Thus, it is never safe to assume abortion rights are permanent.
New Mexico needs to follow the lead of the four states and the District of Columbia that have codified the right to abortion as law. Doing this will protect future abortion access in a post-Roe America and ensure reproductive rights cannot be ousted in a single state legislative session.
Given the attacks on abortion access in Arizona and the radical Texas abortion ban, it is critical New Mexico remains a haven for reproductive health care.
With the likely demise of Roe looming, it is important to understand how many Americans will lose access to safe, legal abortion. Criminalizing abortion does not end abortion, it only ends safe abortion. New Mexicans owe it to themselves and our neighboring states to relentlessly protect safe and legal abortion.