The Otero County Commission — which made national news recently by questioning and refusing to certify recent election results — on Thursday passed a resolution condemning abortions in the county.
The Republican-controlled, three-member commission unanimously voted to approve the resolution at a crowded meeting that brought dozens of county residents to the commission chambers — attendees who passionately argued both sides of the abortion debate. More people in the crowd spoke in favor of abortion rights.
Abortion is legal in New Mexico. And Otero County Attorney R.B. Nichols said the resolution wouldn’t ban or criminalize any abortion procedures in the county.
“This is not going to outlaw anything,” he said during the meeting. “This is a matter of an opinion being expressed.”
Efforts to reach Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and other pro-abortion rights groups were unsuccessful Thursday.
The Otero legislation declares the county “a sanctuary of life.”
It says the commission agrees with a the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, which eliminated the nationwide right to an abortion. The four-page resolution says the commission is against Planned Parenthood and any other clinic that perform abortions, as well as medications that can be used to end a pregnancy.
The resolution says the commission takes a neutral position on abortions done because of medical concerns facing the mother or unborn child, or in cases of rape or incest.
“I don’t believe that a person can just go out and have a wild Friday night, she gets pregnant, and goes off and gets an abortion,” said Gerald Matherly, the vice chairman of the commission. “Some people should have some responsibilities.”
Couy Griffin, an Otero commissioner and the founder of Cowboys for Trump, said he was hopeful the resolution would start a trend. He called on other county commissions in conservative-leaning parts of the state to pass like-minded resolutions.
“If the governor wants to embrace (abortion rights) in Santa Fe, if they wanna have abortion clinics in Las Cruces, if they want to do it in Albuquerque, then they are well within their rights to do so ,” he said. “But if they don’t want it in Carlsbad, if they don’t want it in Roswell, if they don’t want it Farmington, then those county commission boards across the state of New Mexico have to get the same types of resolutions passed.”
Griffin also sounded off on Mark Ronchetti, the Republican candidate for governor, for his statements after the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision. Ronchetti said in a message posted to Twitter that, although he is “pro-life,” he believes in permitting abortion up to 15 weeks into pregnancy and in cases of rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother.
“That doesn’t sound like somebody who is Republican or conservative, in my opinion,” Griffin said. “Because we should protect life at its conception.”
Ronchetti’s campaign didn’t respond directly to Griffin’s remarks on Thursday.
Earlier this year, the Otero County commission made national news when it refused to certify the results of the 2022 primary elections because of perceived signs of election fraud, though top state election officials said the commissioners’ concerns weren’t valid. The board ultimately voted to certify the results.