New Bill Halts Attempted Abortion Bans in New Mexico

On March 16, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 7, the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Freedom Act. This act prohibits local ordinances, public schools and universities, and legislatures from restricting access to abortions or gender-affirming care and from discriminating against individuals seeking such care. Any violators of this act can be fined up to $5,000. The bill was sponsored by Representatives Linda Serrato (D), Charlotte Little (D), Kristina Ortez (D), Reena Szczepanski (D , and Janelle Anyanonu (D). “Protecting gender-affirming health care is a critical part of making sure trans and non-binary New Mexicans can succeed in school, establish healthy relationships with their friends and family, and live authentically as themselves,” stated Representative Ortiz.
This bill is essential to ensure that New Mexicans’ access to health care is not infringed upon by municipal governments. However, some towns and counties in the state have ignored the new law and have attempted to pass laws restricting access to abortions. Edgewood has developed a law to deny access to abortion medication and supplies shipped by mail. Because Edgewood does not have an abortion clinic, many use mailed abortion pills. It is difficult to enforce mail restrictions, so Edgewood’s ordinance relies on private citizens to bring lawsuits against violators, a process commonly seen to enforce abortion bans in conservative states such as Texas. New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez made it clear that the Edgewood law violates New Mexicans’ constitutional rights by stating, “This is not Texas. Our State Constitution does not allow cities, counties or private citizens to restrict women’s reproductive rights. Let this send a strong message that I will use every available tool to uphold individual liberties against unconstitutional overreach.”
Torrez took action against Edgewood’s law and other similar laws recently passed in Hobbs and Clovis by filing an extraordinary writ to the New Mexico Supreme Court and ensuring communities are aware that they do not have the power to restrict access to healthcare. Governor Lujan Grisham has stated that her goal is to codify the right to abortion in New Mexico’s state constitution. Governor Lujan Grisham is also planning to extend reproductive access to more than just New Mexicans with her plan to build an abortion clinic in Doña Ana County, on the border of Texas in southern New Mexico. The ten million dollar effort is a reaction to the rise in abortion restrictions in bordering states. As for the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Freedom Act, it will continue to counter restrictions and discrimination made by public bodies.