Lawsuit claims NM has no law or act that 'allows abortion' in the state - Albuquerque Journal

Lawsuit claims NM has no law or act that ‘allows abortion’ in the state

In this file photo, protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington last month after the court revoked the federal right to an abortion. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – A legal petition filed by Republican state Sen. David Gallegos and others asks a state judge to declare that New Mexico has no law allowing abortion.

The lawsuit – now pending in the 5th Judicial District in southeastern New Mexico – says the state has no law, act or other legal authority that “allows for or legalizes abortion procedures” in the state, and it asks the court to issue a decision saying so.

Democratic and Republican officials alike, however, say abortion is legal in New Mexico. Some abortion providers are, in fact, moving into the state following the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision ending a constitutional right to abortion.

The legal petition was filed by Roswell oil and gas producer Larry Marker, who is not an attorney, but who had also filed a separate lawsuit last year seeking to allow citizen grand juries to investigate Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The other plaintiffs include Sen. Gallegos of Eunice and Ethel Maharg, an anti-abortion activist who ran unsuccessfully for governor this year.

Marker said it’s appropriate to ask the court to rule on abortion because lawmakers did not put any new language into law last year when they repealed the state’s dormant anti-abortion statute.

The action by lawmakers and Lujan Grisham eliminated language making it a crime to end a pregnancy, except in narrow circumstances.

“I’m just simply asking the court to determine if there are any statutes that allow for or legalize abortion,” Marker said Friday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico said there’s no question about abortion rights in the state.

The “petition is without merit and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of our Constitution and how health care is regulated by the law in New Mexico,” ACLU attorney Ellie Rushforth said in a written statement. “Abortion care is and will remain legal in New Mexico – claims otherwise are not based in fact or reality.”

Democratic state legislators and others have said the 2021 legislation repealing the dormant abortion ban ensures the protection of abortion rights in New Mexico.

But they have also said they are weighing whether to take other action, such as enshrining abortion rights directly into law, expanding protections for health care providers or offering help to out-of-state patients seeking an abortion.

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