By Kate Scanlon | OSV News
(OSV News) — A bill that would ban local jurisdictions in New Mexico from restricting abortion was approved by state lawmakers March 7, as the state seeks to block such ordinances by some communities in rural parts of the state.
House Bill 7, the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Freedom Act, would block local governments from restricting abortion or gender reassignment treatments. The state’s Senate approved the bill on March 7, which was previously passed by the state’s House in February. But the state Senate amended the House’s version of the bill, so the chambers must reconcile their versions of the bill before sending it to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk for final approval.
After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in June that overturned prior rulings by the high court making abortion access a constitutional right, New Mexico lawmakers repealed a dormant 1969 statute that outlawed most abortion procedures. The state permits abortion at any stage of pregnancy. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the clinic at issue in the Dobbs case, relocated to Las Cruces, New Mexico, after Mississippi moved to restrict abortion after the ruling.
However, some jurisdictions in the state moved to pass their own abortion restrictions in the wake of Dobbs. According to the Albuquerque Journal, the cities of Hobbs, Clovis and Eunice, as well as Lea and Roosevelt counties, enacted local abortion restrictions after the ruling.
New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez petitioned the state’s Supreme Court to block those ordinances, arguing they lacked the authority to do so.
“Statewide access to health care is not determined by cities and counties. All New Mexicans deserve equal access to health care, including abortion services, regardless of where they live in the state,” Torrez said in a March 8 statement about a supplemental filing in his case. “Our response reiterates that the petition rests on the violation of the New Mexico Constitution by the cities and counties. We will continue to push back against any local government in New Mexico that oversteps its legal authority.”
Pro-life advocates criticized the legislation under consideration by state lawmakers.
“It is abhorrent that Democrats in New Mexico are trying to take their state’s extreme abortion-on-demand policy even further,” Adam Schwend, Western regional director of state affairs at Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, told OSV News.
“Being a state that allows abortion at any point up until birth is not enough for the pro-abortion radicals who are trying to strip away any ability of local governments to consider lifesaving measures,” Schwend said.
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the legislation.