Southwest Womens Options

Congressional panel studies ‘born alive’ problem that doctors call ‘medically inaccurate’

A year-long congressional investigation that opponents dismissed as “an end-to-end attack on fetal tissue donation and women’s health care” criticized two Albuquerque abortion providers. Both the University of New Mexico and Southwestern Women’s Options, according to the congressional Select Panel on Infant Rights’ Final Report released earlier this month, lack protocols to “ensure the survival of infants who show signs of life following extraction from the uterus.”

Anti-abortion activists use the term “born alive” abortion to describe the scenario, which involves an infant that is alive after a botched medical abortion. But there’s one big problem with this conclusion in the estimated $1.5 million investigation: ”born alive” abortions don’t actually occur, according to medical professionals. In a written statement to NM Political Report, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) dismissed the term “born alive” as “medically inaccurate.”

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The seal of the state of New Mexico in the House

As lawmakers wrangle with deficits, House cuts legislative budget

As New Mexico lawmakers work to rebalance government spending for the current fiscal year and prepare to craft a spending package for fiscal year 2018, state House members have agreed to cut their own funding. In a unanimous vote Thursday evening, the House decided to shave about 2.5 percent from the Legislature’s budget and revert some of its own reserve funds. The move follows lawmakers’ decision during a special session last fall to cut 3 percent of legislative spending. The bill will save about $1 million overall, leaving a budget of about $8.7 million for the 60-day session. The original bill called for a legislative budget of about $24.4 million, funding not just the session but also year-round legislative staff and committees that meet in the months between sessions.

Congressman Steve Pearce speaking at the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2011.Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore cc

Pearce named to Natural Resources Committee

Last week, House Republicans announced members of the House Committee on Natural Resources for the 115th Congress. That list included Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico who had previously served on the committee from 2003 through 2009. In a statement from his office, Pearce said he plans to work on “restoring the health of our national forests, ensuring multiple use on appropriate federal lands, allowing Native American communities to grow and prosper, fighting for New Mexico water, preserving our national treasures and landmarks to safeguard them for future generations and more.”

NM Political Report asked Pearce’s chief of staff Todd Willens for more details about the congressman’s plans. Willens declined to provide additional information, but wrote in an email that “as the agenda for the committee reveals itself, the Congressman will update the public.”

This session, the committee is chaired by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, a proponent of private property and states’ rights and an opponent of any new national monument designations. Bishop announced last week the Republican members of the committee will “strengthen an aggressive agenda that we will pursue in partnership with a new administration.”

The committee, which includes 26 Republicans and 18 Democrats, considers legislation on a wide range of issues important to New Mexico, including public lands management, energy and mining, American Indians, fisheries, wildlife and irrigation.

Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, right, with Reps. Javier Martínez and Liz Thompson, both Democrats from Albuquerque, speaks Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, during a news conference about a proposed constitutional amendment for automatic voter registration for those eligible to vote.

Democrats propose amendment calling for automatic voter registration

All eligible voters in New Mexico should be registered, and the government should do it for them automatically, three Democratic lawmakers said Wednesday in announcing a proposal to enshrine new election law in the state constitution. The legislators said their proposal for automatic voter registration would reduce costs and create a more accurate system. Another likely benefit would be more people voting and holding government accountable for policy decisions, said Rep. Liz Thomson, one of the measure’s sponsors. “The more voices we hear, the better we can represent them,” Thomson said. She is teaming on the proposed constitutional amendment with Rep. Javier Martinez and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto.

The House debating a three strikes law expansion in the 2016 special session

Budget woes and beyond: Legislators have work to do this session

The biggest issue for legislators this session is New Mexico’s perilous financial situation—and how they plan to fill a projected $67 million budget deficit. Gov. Susana Martinez has proposed moving  $268.5 million from state agencies into the general fund budget. Of that $120 million would come from local public education reserve funds. Martinez’s plan also would require state employees to pay roughly 3.5 percent more into their retirement plans. This piece also appeared in this week’s edition of the Weekly Alibi.

Gov. Susana Martinez takes the podium Tuesday to deliver her State of the State address during the first day of the state Legislative session at the Roundhouse.

Martinez calls for unity

One week after accusing lawmakers of failing to make tough decisions as New Mexico slid into financial crisis, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez struck a conciliatory tone in her annual State of the State address Tuesday, calling on legislators to work together as the state faces a projected deficit that will top the agenda for the 60-day legislative session ahead. Rattling off issues on which Republican and Democratic lawmakers had reached agreement in the recent past, Martinez urged bipartisan compromise during the session’s opening day. But with the governor also calling on lawmakers to reinstate the death penalty for some crimes and reiterating her opposition to raising taxes, her pleas for cooperation with Democratic majorities in both the state Senate and House of Representatives will be quickly tested. Related: Dem response: ‘The state of our state is unacceptable’

This year’s session may be the last big opportunity for Martinez to advance some of her big-ticket legislative proposals. Only a 30-day session, which are typically dedicated to the budget, will remain before the two-term governor leaves office at the end of 2018.