Democrats Seek to Remove NM Abortion Ban

NM State Capitol (Getty Images)

New Mexico Democrats are preparing to present a bill at the legislative session in January to remove the state’s ban on abortion, to ensure safe and legal abortion procedures remain accessible.

On Monday, State Rep. Joanne Ferrary of Las Cruces proposed her plans to introduce a bill that would remove the 1969 criminal ban that is still on the books, but has been unenforced. She is hoping this will be done fast, in case the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortions across the country.

Representative Ferrary

Ferrary says this proposal comes with a sense of urgency after President Donald Trump appointed Republican justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We don’t know what we can expect, so we have to move fast,” Ferrary said.

New Mexico’s ban on abortion came in 1969, where it became a felony to terminate a pregnancy with exceptions to rape, birth defects, and threats to a women’s health. However, the ban went unenforced following the Supreme Court ruling. If the legalization of abortion is overturned, New Mexico’s ban would be enforced.

The proposal of the bill has received praise from the Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham. Throughout her gubernatorial race, Lujan Grisham made her support known for women’s rights, including abortion. Last week in a comment to the press, Lujan Grisham spoke about New Mexico’s abortion ban.

“It is an antiquated law intended to punish women, whose reproductive choices should be between their physician or medical practitioner and themselves,” Lujan Grisham said.

The bill’s proposed removal of the ban is a controversial one, with backlash from those in the community. The executive director of the Right to Life Committee of New Mexico, Dauneen Dolce, would oppose removal of the ban.

“We do not want that to happen because it would be absolutely no protection to women and no restrictions on abortion if you remove what is on the books,” Dolce said.

Dolce said she has been working with legislators to let them know her concerns and will continue to use her voice until she is heard.

“They’re assuming that because there is more democrats in the house now, that everybody is for this, and I don’t believe that is true,” Dolce said.

The bill has also received backlash from Republican House minority Rod Montoya, who has called for Democrats with conservative views to oppose this bill and work together.

Supporters of this bill remain concerned about procedures being performed properly and safely if passed. Ferrary said she does not plan on forfeiting the current ban’s regulations for safety.

“We would make sure that this bill still ensures that all procedures are done safely and legally,” Ferrary said.

Similar bills to repeal the abortion ban have been presented to Gov. Susana Martinez, but were never adopted by the legislature.

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