June 29, 2018

With likely SCOTUS shift, New Mexicans prepare for post-Roe landscape

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Laura Paskus

The U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has served as a swing vote in the U.S. Supreme Court on some issues including the decision not to overturn Roe v. Wade, but a new, more conservative replacement could change that.

If the ruling is overturned, each state would decide on the legality of abortion.

New Mexico is one of ten states where a pre-Roe law means abortion would be illegal if the landmark case were overturned.

Overturning Roe v. Wade has been a conservative goal for decades and Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins told NPR this week that Kennedy’s retirement pushed them on the brink of success.

“In New Mexico, we have an old statute on the books from pre Roe v. Wade,” explained State Rep. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces. “We are going to remove those statutes so women can have safe and legal abortions in New Mexico.”

Ferrary and others introduced legislation to address this in 2017, and she told NM Political Report that she would continue the effort in the future.

“I will be introducing this bill again in 2019 with the new governor—hopefully Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is also committed to protecting safe and legal abortions.”

She will have support.

A priority

Marshall Martinez, the Public Affairs Director in New Mexico for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said that the passage of the bill would be a priority.

“Other than this one outdated law, our policies really reflect the values of New Mexicans,” Martinez told NM Political Report. “Overturning Roe and this ban going back into effect in New Mexico would just be such a radical leap form where we know New Mexicans are now.”

Gov. Susana Martinez has opposed abortion and almost certainly would have vetoed the bill had it passed in either of the past two years.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, supports abortion rights, while Republican nominee Steve Pearce is in favor of more abortion restrictions.

Ferrary’s previous legislation passed one House committee, but did not make it to the House floor.

Ferrary introduced the legislation again in 2018, but it was not deemed germane to the budget-focused and was not heard in any committee.

Marshall Martinez said the governor not putting Ferrary’s bill on the call for the session went against the “broad community support across all corners of the state.”

He also said that he felt Kennedy’s retirement “does create a renewed sense of urgency around this particular bill.”

Charlene Bencomo, a policy fellow with Young Women United, said it is difficult to predict what would happen with the New Mexico legislation.

“Obviously a lot of things are coming to fruition recently that a lot of people may have had on their radars but may not have anticipated coming this quickly,” she said.

Illinois repealed a law that would have automatically made abortion illegal in the state should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. That law was passed after the 1973 Supreme Court decision.

The Guttmacher Institute, which supports reproductive rights, says four states have “trigger” laws that would kick in and automatically ban abortion if Roe is overturned. Another seven states say they intend “ to restrict the right to legal abortion to the maximum extent permitted by the U.S. Supreme Court in the absence of Roe.”

And New Mexico is one of ten states with existing abortion bans preempted by the Supreme Court decision.

The decision wouldn’t take place until the Supreme Court hears a case regarding abortion, several possibilities of which are currently working their way through the federal court system.

The last time

Filibusters of Supreme Court nominees are not allowed in the U.S. Senate, which would need to approve Trump’s nominee, and Republicans currently hold a slight majority in the chamber. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said he would hold a vote this fall on the nominee.