September 25, 2015

ABQ mayor denounces tactics from anti-abortion group

Mayor Richard Berry in August, 2015. Photo Credit: Joey Peters

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry is calling on an anti-abortion group to stop using blown-up graphic imagery in a Southeast Heights neighborhood.

Mayor Richard Berry

Mayor Richard Berry

This week, Protest ABQ has been driving a truck with a large-scale picture of what’s purported to be an aborted fetus throughout the district where city council candidate Pat Davis* lives. Davis, who was part of a coalition group in 2013 that advocated against a ballot initiative that would have banned abortions in Albuquerque after 20 weeks of pregnancy, is running to replace Councilor Rey Garduño in the Democrat-leaning District 6.

Berry, a Republican opposed to abortion rights, made the announcement in a Youtube video Friday.

“As a pro-life mayor and a former state legislator, today I’m calling on Protest ABQ to stop taking large-scale images of abortions into neighborhoods where our children and our schoolkids are being exposed and traumatized,” Berry said in the video. “These kids don’t have a vote, they can’t pick the next city councilors, the next state representative or the next congressperson.”

Berry noted that “we live in a free country, we have the First Amendment and we all have a right to advocate for issues that are important to us, but we need to do it in a responsible manner.”

Tara Shaver, a spokeswoman for Protest ABQ, said that Berry should instead “work on removing Albuquerque’s shameful reputation of being the late term abortion capital of the nation.”

Albuquerque is one of a handful of cities in the nation with a clinic that practices abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Tara and her husband Bud Shaver have long criticized not just Democrats who support abortion rights, but also Republicans like Berry and Gov. Susana Martinez who they say have not done enough to limit abortion rights.

Both Shavers were instrumental in bringing a late-term abortion ban to a citywide vote in Albuquerque in 2013, which ultimately failed to pass.

“The reason why Protest ABQ has resorted to what some people consider extreme tactics is a direct result of Mayor Berry’s lack of action regarding the out-of-control abortion industry in his very own city,” Tara Shaver said in a statement. “Mayor Berry, as well as our self-proclaimed pro-life Governor Susana Martinez have not lifted one finger to save even one preborn child’s life but instead allow children to be subjected to the brutal action the images we use capture.”

Davis, a Democrat who is running against Republican Hess “Hessito” Yntema and Democrat Sam Kerwin, has said that city hall has no business in “getting between a woman and her doctor on medical issues.”

City council races in Albuquerque are officially non-partisan, but parties frequently are involved in the elections.

Protest ABQ also recently sent out a mailer with similar graphic imagery to District 6 voters targeting Davis for being “too extreme” for supporting “archaic” practices such as late term abortion.”

An employee with ProgressNow New Mexico*, where Davis works as executive director, filed a complaint about the mailer with the city ethics board for violating city election rules. A preliminary hearing on the complaint is set to be scheduled soon.

*Pat Davis is the executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico. ProgressNow New Mexico helps find funding for New Mexico Political Report. No one at ProgressNow New Mexico, including Davis, has any editorial control over this or any other story. This includes story selection or content of any story—including this one.