Ahead of session, NM Dems weigh how to reinforce abortion rights, reproductive health care access - Albuquerque Journal

Ahead of session, NM Dems weigh how to reinforce abortion rights, reproductive health care access

Letisha Perry participates in a “Defend Roe v. Wade” rally in downtown Albuquerque in May. (Chancey Bush/Journal)

Copyright © 2023 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Fresh off an election cycle in which it was a central issue, Democratic lawmakers in New Mexico are weighing how to reinforce abortion rights and access to reproductive health care in the upcoming 60-day legislative session.

Their ideas include codifying abortion rights in state law, investing in telehealth and clinics that provide reproductive health care, and protecting providers or patients who travel to New Mexico to escape restrictions in other states.

Democrats are in a strong position to advance their priorities after emerging from the general election with their control of the Roundhouse intact.

But there’s still debate over the right approach, such as whether it’d be advantageous to enshrine abortion rights directly in state law.

And they can expect intense opposition from Republican lawmakers who say New Mexicans would support reasonable limits on abortion.

As the 2023 session approaches, one priority for Democrats is expanding access to reproductive health care in general – a key issue in a geographically large state with a shortage of doctors and nurses.

“Having the right is very different from being able to utilize it,” state Rep. Linda Serrato, D-Santa Fe, said in an interview.

To that end, she said, lawmakers are likely to focus at least in part on improving telehealth infrastructure and perhaps building clinics to provide a spectrum of pregnancy and reproductive health care services.

Some patients in rural parts of the state, Serrato said, now travel for hours to Santa Fe or Albuquerque for pregnancy-related care.

Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena, D-Mesilla, said New Mexico families need access to a full spectrum of health care, ranging from pregnancy services to behavioral health programs.

“Abortion is health care,” Lara Cadena said, “and part of the way we get there is making sure we meet the full needs of our familias without shame or stigma.”

‘Best approach’

Abortion itself is legal in New Mexico. In 2021, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law a measure repealing the state’s 1969 law criminalizing abortion in most cases – unenforceable for decades because of the 1973 court decision in Roe v. Wade.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe decision in June, however, putting abortion rights in the hands of states.

Democrats seized on the issue in campaigns for governor and the New Mexico House of Representatives, pitching themselves as stout defenders of abortion rights.

In June, Lujan Grisham approved an order intended to shield health care providers from discipline if they provide abortion services. It also asserts New Mexico won’t comply with abortion-related arrest warrants or extradition requests from other states.

Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, said legislators are evaluating how to put some or all of the June order into state law, making it more difficult for a future governor to repeal the protections.

Also on the table, she said, is a proposal to prohibit public entities from interfering with or denying the reproductive rights of people in New Mexico.

Lujan Grisham spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett said the governor has been clear about “her commitment to taking every necessary action to protect abortion access.”

‘Out of touch’

The debate over abortion rights has already shaken up the Roundhouse. It was a key issue in Democratic primary campaigns in 2020, when a host of anti-abortion Democrats lost their Senate seats.

It cleared the way for Lujan Grisham and the Legislature to repeal New Mexico’s dormant abortion ban in 2021.

But Republican lawmakers and candidates have argued Democrats are going too far and that New Mexico voters would support some of the abortion restrictions imposed in other states, such as parental notification for minors.

“Although many New Mexicans do not oppose abortion altogether, it’s clear that most support reasonable limits and protections for women and children,” Sen. Crystal Diamond, R-Elephant Butte, said. “The Democrats’ plan to expand abortion access for minors and women from out of state is completely out of touch.”

Finding consensus

Democrats, nonetheless, campaigned on safeguarding abortion rights, and they say they intend to deliver. But they are still evaluating whether abortion rights ought to be written directly into law.

Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, said writing abortion language into a state law isn’t necessary.

“Frankly, some of us would like our statutes to remain as they are,” she said.

State law, Stewart said, “doesn’t talk about abortion care because that’s really between women and their doctors, their families, etc.”

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Ahead of session, NM Dems weigh how to reinforce abortion rights, reproductive health care access

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories




Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages

 

Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
1
Grammer: When it comes to fans, the obnoxious few ...
ABQnews Seeker
Utah State guard Max Shulga showed ... Utah State guard Max Shulga showed class in his response to unacceptable taunts from a few Colorado State students.
2
Man critically injured in Santa Fe shooting
ABQnews Seeker
A man was critically injured after ... A man was critically injured after being shot in a Santa Fe apartment complex on Saturday night.
3
Three teenagers found dead in garage in Edgewood
ABQnews Seeker
Police said in a news release ... Police said in a news release there is no indication of foul play and it appears to have been carbon monoxide poisoning.
4
Man, woman killed in Hobbs hit-and-run crash
ABQnews Seeker
A man and a woman were ... A man and a woman were killed in Hobbs on Friday night after being struck by a vehicle while walking their dog, according to ...
5
Child, 10, allegedly sexually assaulted by foster teen at ...
ABQnews Seeker
The offices of the state child ... The offices of the state child welfare agency are used to house foster children despite New Mexico’s promise to provide them with appropriate homes.
6
Civilians fill in for sworn officers at Albuquerque Police ...
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said ... Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said he sees hiring civilians as "the forefront of the wave of the future." He added: "The civilians are ...
7
How close did Albuquerque come to a record-high temperature?
ABQnews Seeker
Temperatures in the Duke City reached ... Temperatures in the Duke City reached 63 degrees, said Jennifer Shoemake, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. That was the warmest ...
8
Study says New Mexico turning blind eye to several ...
ABQnews Seeker
A UNM study argues that the ... A UNM study argues that the state government, in its efforts to meet climate goals, stops short of requiring cuts to greenhouse gas emissions ...
9
5 things going on in Albuquerque this week
ABQnews Seeker
From hoops to a mid-week show, ... From hoops to a mid-week show, here’s what’s happening in the Albuquerque next week.