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SANTA FE – Mark Ronchetti, who has come under relentless criticism from Democrats for his stance on abortion, said Thursday he would push for voters to decide the state’s law on abortion in a special election.
The Republican gubernatorial candidate said in a new TV ad the approach would give voters the ultimate say in New Mexico, which currently does not have any restrictions on abortion after lawmakers last year repealed a long-dormant 1969 abortion ban.
“Honestly, no politician should decide this,” Ronchetti says during the 30-second ad. “You should. We should vote on it as a state.”
Both the New Mexico Democratic Party and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s reelection campaign were quick to pounce on Ronchetti’s latest plan.
A spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham, Ronchetti’s primary opponent in the Nov. 8 general election, said abortion is already on the ballot this year.
“Mark Ronchetti’s latest plan to ban abortion through a constitutional amendment is indicative of a spiraling candidate who continues to try to spin his anti-abortion extremism to cover up the fact that he’s determined to punish New Mexico women and doctors,” Lujan Grisham spokeswoman Delaney Corcoran said.
The ad released Thursday features both Ronchetti and his wife, Krysty O’Quinn Ronchetti, who points out Ronchetti is the married father of two young daughters.
While the ad does not say exactly what type of language voters would be asked to consider, Ronchetti has proposed banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for cases of rape, incest or when a mother’s life is at risk.
Such a vote would likely take the form of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have to be approved by legislators, as New Mexico does not allow for voter-driven ballot initiatives.
Ronchetti said in a Thursday interview he would, if elected, seek to work with lawmakers to craft a proposal that would go before voters. The special election, per state law, would be conducted entirely with mail-in ballots.
He said he proposed the idea because abortion is such a “personal issue” that voters should have the ability to decide the state’s laws governing it.
“I shouldn’t be the guy making the decision,” Ronchetti told the Journal. “No one person should be, in this case.”
Lujan Grisham, who opposes any restrictions on abortion, pushed for lawmakers to repeal the state’s abortion ban and has issued two executive orders on the subject since the U.S. Supreme Court in June announced a ruling that overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
One of the executive orders signed by the Democratic governor seeks to shield abortion providers and out-of-state residents seeking abortion services in New Mexico from criminal warrants and other legal actions, while the other pledges $10 million in state funds to build a new clinic in Doña Ana County that would provide abortion and other reproductive services.
Democrats have seized on language on Ronchetti’s previous campaign website – during his 2020 bid for a U.S. Senate seat – that life should be protected “at all stages” as an indication he would push for a broad abortion ban.
But Ronchetti insisted Thursday that is not his goal.
“I’ve never said that in any way, shape or form,” he said. “The only extremist on this issue is the governor.”