Vestigal New Mexico Abortion Law Finally Struck from the Books

Activists say it was a long time coming

After years of work by reproductive rights activists, the 1969 statute that criminalized abortion in New Mexico was repealed with few exceptions after Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act, SB10, into law on February 26th.
“A woman has the right to make decisions about her own body”, Lujan Grisham said. “Anyone who seeks to violate bodily integrity or to criminalize womanhood is in the business of dehumanization. New Mexico is not in that business-not any more”

At this critical moment for reproductive freedom in our state, it was time for a bold statement that reflects New Mexicans’ respect for the private reproductive health decisions that women, pregnant people, and families make every day.”

— ACLU Attorney Ellie Rushforth

A similar bill went before congress in 2019 but was shot down in the Senate. Among advocates, there was a heightened urgency to repeal the ban after Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed at the end of last year, increasing the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to 6-3, which could overturn or weaken the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade and thus allow the 1969 statute to go into effect.
The primary distinction between the SB10 and the 2019 bill is that SB10 allows medical professionals to refuse to provide a medically necessary abortion, which is preserved from the original statute. Democratic representatives have said that this was in an effort to compromise with more conservative senators, however, reproductive rights advocates and experts say that no part of the statute should exist in our legal code. Nonetheless, it is seen as a pivotal step for reproductive rights and freedom in our state.
“At this critical moment for reproductive freedom in our state, it was time for a bold statement that reflects New Mexicans’ respect for the private reproductive health decisions that women, pregnant people, and families make every day,” said ACLU of New Mexico reproductive rights attorney Ellie Rushforth. “A group of diverse reproductive health, rights, and justice champions, led by women of color, Senator Linda Lopez and Representative Micaela Lara Cadena, ushered in this historic moment to remove New Mexico’s dangerous and unconstitutional abortion ban. The ban didn’t belong on the law books in 1969 and certainly didn’t belong there now. The decision to have an abortion is not a political one. It is a personal one. Everyone should be able to receive individualized care, based on their unique circumstances and medical needs, without the fear of investigation or prosecution. And, after Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed this piece of legislation, that is where the law stands today.”