Fearing a potential legal challenge to the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide, Democratic lawmakers in New Mexico are seeking to remove the state’s criminal ban on abortion.
Following a recent trend to advance access to abortion — particularly late-term abortion — liberal politicians in the southwestern state’s House of Representatives voted late Wednesday by a largely party-line vote of 40-29 to erase New Mexico’s anti-abortion law, in order to solidify access to the controversial procedure even if the high court’s Roe v. Wade decision was overturned.
Six state Democrats — Reps. Anthony Allison, Doreen Wonda Johnson, Patricia Lundstrom, Patricio Ruiloba, Joseph Sanchez and Candie Sweetser — joined Republicans to vote against the bill, according to the Albuquerque Journal. One Republican, Paul Bandy, was excused from the vote.
Rep. Joanne Ferrary, a Democrat and one of the co-sponsors of the bill to eliminate the criminal ban, said the legislation — House Bill 51 — “simply removes an antiquated law that criminalizes health care.”
The portion of New Mexico law the bill seeks to overturn states:
Criminal abortion consists of administering to any pregnant woman any medicine, drug or other substance, or using any method or means whereby an untimely termination of her pregnancy is produced, or attempted to be produced, with the intent to destroy the fetus, and the termination is not a justified medical termination.
Whoever commits criminal abortion is guilty of a fourth degree felony. Whoever commits criminal abortion which results in the death of the woman is guilty of a second degree felony.
Critics of the new bill have argued the current statute protects doctors’ right to decline participating in abortions if doing so would go against their consciences.
“Doctors in New Mexico don’t want to be forced to do this … to do something that sickens them,” said House Minority Whip Rod Montoya, a Republican.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) has vowed to sign the legislation into law if it makes it through the state Senate.
The consideration in New Mexico comes not long after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed into law a controversial bill expanding access to late-term abortion in the Empire State. Lawmakers in Virginia, Rhode Island and Vermont have advocated for similar pro-abortion bills.
During his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Donald Trump weighed in on the issue, urging Congress to pass legislation “to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.”
“These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world,” he said