Crowd at the Albuquerque Women's March

[PHOTOS] Albuquerque Women’s March

An estimated 6,000 people showed up in Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza Saturday to join in a nationwide women’s march against newly sworn-in President Donald Trump. Below, NM Political Report caught up with a few of the protestors. Anna, pictured right: “I’m here because I don’t like the new president. I’m living here temporarily, but I still think that I can’t not protest again him. There are so many things I dislike about him.

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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Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Sen. Tom Udall.Photo Credit: Talk Radio News Service cc

Udall questions nominees on climate change, financial conflicts

Sen. Tom Udall questioned two of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees about climate change and the president-elect’s financial conflicts during Senate hearings Wednesday. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is Trump’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and Wilbur Ross is the nominee for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. During Haley’s confirmation hearing before the Foreign Relations Committee, Udall questioned her position on climate change. Trump has called climate change a “hoax” and vowed to withdraw funding for United Nations climate programs. He has also said his administration would withdraw the U.S. from commitments made last year in Paris to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Udall asked if Haley thinks the U.S. should “maintain its leadership in the Paris Agreement in order to ensure that countries abide by their climate obligations?”

Photo Credit: mFlickr Flickr /cc

ABQ police watchdog: Feds investigating more than just video tampering claims

The scope of an ongoing federal criminal investigation into events surrounding the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old woman by an Albuquerque police officer in 2014 stretches beyond what has been previously reported. That’s according to the lead investigator for the city’s independent police watchdog group. Department of Justice officials took the rare step last month of confirming an investigation into allegations made by a whistleblower that APD employees tampered with video from officers’ body cameras and other sources, including video from the early morning hours of April 21, 2014, when then-APD officer Jeremy Dear shot Mary Hawkes. But Ed Harness, executive director of the Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA), said in an interview that federal authorities are “looking into the entire case,” including whether the shooting itself was unlawful. In a series of presentations to Justice Department officials in early November, Harness and one of his investigators turned over information they had gathered during an administrative review of the shooting.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich. Official photo.

Heinrich votes against prescription drug imports

Martin Heinrich was one of 13 Democratic U.S. senators who voted against legislation earlier this week that would have allowed Americans to buy prescription drugs from other countries. The measure, a health care reform idea often supported by progressives, came as an amendment to legislation aimed at changing Senate rules to allow majority votes on budget bills. The procedural changes, which the Senate narrowly approved in the early hours of Thursday, are the first step in Republican plans to repeal as much of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, as they can. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent senator who unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination last year, sponsored the amendment with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota. Senators rejected the amendment on a 52-48 margin, with 12 Republicans casting their votes in favor.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall (l) and Martin Heinrich (r)

Udall, Heinrich vote against first steps to repeal Obamacare

Both U.S. senators from New Mexico voted this week against the first steps the Senate took to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. The Senate vote, held Thursday during early morning hours, changed procedural rules to allow majority votes on so-called reconciliation bills. Such reconciliation bills are limited to actions on the federal budget and are filibuster-proof, meaning they just need 51 votes from senators to pass instead of the usual 60 votes. Republicans plan to use this reconciliation process to repeal as much of the ACA as they can. Sens.

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

Report: Pearce among those who sought to weaken independent ethics office

Rep. Steve Pearce was one of the Republican members of Congress who voted to gut the independent office looking into ethics, according to a news report. The vote came during a closed-door meeting by Republicans and became public Monday. After a major public outcry, Republican lawmakers changed course Tuesday and announced they scrapped plans to remove the functions from Office of Congressional Ethics. Politico reported that Pearce was one of those who supported removing many key functions of the independent OCE, including its ability to refer allegations to law enforcement. The now-dead proposal sought to send give more power to the House Ethics Committee, which is made up of members of Congress.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham with other panelists on a discussion about the environment.Photo Credit: Andy Lyman

Lujan Grisham to be part of Dem whip team

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham will be a Senior Whip in the Democratic caucus when the new Congress convenes next year. Lujan Grisham received the position after being named by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer on Thursday. This is the second high-profile position for Lujan Grisham in the upcoming Congress. Lujan Grisham was recently elected chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which is made up of Hispanic members of the chamber, currently only Democrats. Hoyer referenced that position Thursday in a statement.

Photo Credit: Joe Gratz cc

Lawsuit alleges clinic donated fetal tissue without woman’s consent

A woman who underwent an abortion at Southwestern Women’s Options is suing the Albuquerque clinic for allegedly not informing her and receiving permission before providing fetal tissue from her terminated pregnancy for research at the University of New Mexico. The lawsuit, filed late last month in district court in Albuquerque, also accuses the clinic’s director, Curtis Boyd, and physician, Carmen Landau, of negligence for not informing Jessica Duran the fetal tissue would be donated for medical research. Landau, according to the lawsuit, treated Duran when she underwent an abortion in October 2012. “Women are supposed to be informed, supposed to be given information about the nature of the research, the benefits of the research, and given the opportunity to decide what happens,” Elisa Martinez, executive director of New Mexico Alliance for Life, which supports the lawsuit but is not part of the legal proceeding, said in an interview. Related: GOP congressional panel wants abortion investigation in NM

Martinez described the lawsuit as “a result” of public records requests Alliance for Life made with UNM and a congressional panel’s investigation into the Albuquerque health clinic.

michelle-lujan-grisham-official-photo

Lujan Grisham to lead Congressional Hispanic Caucus

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham will lead a group in Congress representing Hispanic members of the chamber. The Hispanic members of the incoming Congress elected Lujan Grisham as chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Congress. The Congressional Hispanic Congress is a non-partisan group made up of members of Congress which says it “advocates for issues important to Latinos via the legislative process in Congress.”

“I want to thank my colleagues for entrusting me with the great responsibility of leading the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in the 115th Congress,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement Thursday. “As the next Chairwoman, I intend to continue building on the many accomplishments we have achieved this Congress and ensure that the Caucus is leading the fight to support Hispanic communities and protect families across the country.”

The first vice chair will be Joaquin Castro of Texas, the second vice chair will be Ruben Gallego of Arizona and the caucus whip will be Pete Aguilar of California. All members of leadership are Democrats.