NM officials ask judge to reject abortion suit - Albuquerque Journal

NM officials ask judge to reject abortion suit

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The governor and state attorney general are seeking dismissal of an anti-abortion lawsuit filed by Republican state Sen. David Gallegos and others, describing it as a flawed attempt to create controversy where none exists.

In motions to dismiss Thursday, attorneys for Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas said there is no legal question or injury for the court to weigh in on.

The petition filed by Gallegos and others asks a judge to declare that New Mexico has no law allowing abortion.

But Lujan Grisham’s attorneys said it’s clear that abortion is legal in New Mexico, despite the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. That decision ended the constitutional right to an abortion and allowed states to decide the issue.

In New Mexico, the Legislature has already repealed a 1969 statute that sought to make it a crime to end a pregnancy.

Abortion rights are also protected by the Equal Protection Clause and Equal Rights Amendment outlined in the state Constitution, according to the governor’s legal team.

Gallegos, a Republican from Eunice, said he hadn’t seen the motions to dismiss. But it’s a perfectly legitimate question, he said, to ask the court to issue a declaratory ruling on abortion, given that lawmakers repealed the criminal abortion statute, but did not replace it with anything.

“I know they’re going to try to cover their tracks,” he said. “I still think we as a legislature did it wrong.”

Besides Gallegos, the plaintiffs seeking a court ruling on abortion are Roswell oil and gas producer Larry Marker and anti-abortion activist Ethel Maharg, who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for governor this year.

Attorneys for Lujan Grisham and Balderas said the plaintiffs failed to meet the legal requirements necessary to seek a ruling from the judge.

Lujan Grisham’s attorneys also slammed their argument on the merits. They said it would flip the legal system on its head if a court determined that anything not specifically mentioned in law is prohibited.

“For example,” the governor’s legal team said, “there is no law specifically allowing for vasectomies, penile augmentations or circumcisions – do plaintiffs really believe those procedures are illegal, too?”

The case is pending in the 5th Judicial District Court in southeastern New Mexico.

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