February 2, 2021

Respect New Mexico Women: ‘We won’t be bullied’

A virtual reproductive-justice rally to underscore the importance of repealing the 1969 abortion ban in the state took place Monday.

Because of the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Respect New Mexico Women, a coalition of organizations dedicated to reproductive justice, held the rally virtually to ensure safety during the pandemic. An assortment of advocates, experts, supporters and lawmakers spoke from their individual locations to talk about why repealing the 1969 ban that would outlaw abortion in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court guts or overturns Roe v. Wade is crucial to healthcare.

Related: New Mexico’s 1969 abortion law was one in a long line of laws restricting access

There were calls to action and two Albuquerque Democratic legislators, state Sen. Linda Lopez and state state Rep. Georgene Louis, of the Acoma Pueblo, spoke about why they are sponsoring the Senate and House bills.

Lopez said “every pregnancy is unique and complex.”’

“Making a decision not to continue a pregnancy is very difficult and very personal,” she said. “We must make sure access is safe and available. That’s why I introduced this bill to get rid of an antiquated abortion law.”

An interactive art installation also became available to view Monday evening in the Santa Fe Plaza and online and will again appear Tuesday evening. Artists from Meow Wolf in Santa Fe and Electric Playhouse in Albuquerque partnered with the coalition to create an art piece that allows visitors to hear testimonials about why repealing the ban is important to families and individuals. The coalition intended to hold the rally on the first day of the legislative session, but rescheduled for February 1 because of the violence that took place at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6. The Roundhouse was on high alert for potential danger the week of President Joe Biden’s inauguration so the coalition postponed to ensure safety.

Marianna Anaya, deputy director of Progress Now New Mexico*, told New Mexico Political Report that rescheduling was “a tough call.”

“Because one of the messages we want to make clear, we won’t be bullied by anti-abortion extremists into submission. Our legislative work will absolutely keep happening,” she said.

The two abortion bills, HB 7 and SB 10, which together are called the Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act, have moved quickly through the Legislature. HB 7 passed two committees last week and is expected to be heard on the House floor next.

Related: Bill to decriminalize abortion heads to the House floor next

The senate bill passed the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee last week and is scheduled to be heard in  the Senate Judiciary Committee next.

Related: Abortion ban repeal bill clears first hurdle Monday

If the Legislature passes a bill this month, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who supports repealing the 1969 statute, will have three days to sign the repeal into law. That means the 1969 statute could be stricken from the state’s law books before the end of the month.

During the rally, Anaya recalled the violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol and connected it to the violence many in the reproductive justice community already face.

“We really need to recognize this hate-filled violence at the capitol, this extremism, is nothing new to so many of our communities. It’s not new to our communities of color. It’s not new to our LGBTQ community. And it’s certainly not new to abortion care providers. They face harassment, bomb threats and death threats every single day,” Anaya said during the rally.

Others who spoke highlighted the connection between reproductive justice and Black Lives Matter. Abortion care intersects with racial justice and social justice issues, reproductive justice advocates have said.

Erica Davis Crump, co-chair for Coalition for Choice, said “we cannot turn back the clock.”

“Being a Black woman in this space, when we fight for the liberation for what works for birthing bodies, everybody wins. I’m so proud to be a part of this movement now in our time. We’ve already endured and seen the worst of what this country can be,” Davis Crump said.

Georgene Louis said Native Americans were forced into sterilization in the 1970s.

“History has shown us that women of color aren’t already trusted to make healthcare decisions. That’s why I’m proud to sponsor a bill that will repeal the old abortion ban.”

Rachael Lorenzo, Laguna Pueblo, gender nonbinary and co-founder of Indigenous Women Risisng, spoke of the abortion fund IWR provides to Indigenous people who need help in accessing abortion care.

“We trust Indigenous people to make the best decisions for their lives. We are modeling for the rest of the country by ensuring we have the best access to abortion and access to equitable birthing care and prenatal care,” they said.

Italia Aranda, an abortion care provider who works with the Mariposa Fund, which provides aid to undocumented people seeking an abortion, talked about what some women already face when trying to get an abortion.

“Our patients overcome every single day obstacles thrown in their way. They have to drive several hours to reach our clinic or move past judgment or gatekeeping oftentimes from their own providers. Or they have to navigate the extremely complex and criminal systems that oftentimes delay their care,” Aranda said.

Sondra Roeuny, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico, told the story of her parents fleeing the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia in the 1970s. The Khmer Rouge killed around 2 million people.

“Not until my parents rebuilt their lives in the U.S. could they make their own decisions about if, when or how they would grow their family,” Roeuny said.

Reproductive healthcare also affects the LGBTQ community and transgender men are sometimes in need of abortion care. In addition, bodily autonomy is a cornerstone of LGBTQ rights, advocates have said.

Jax Sugars, a member of Equality New Mexico and a nonbinary transgender man said they have lived with white privilege which has allowed them to decide if, when and how they have children.

“So many do not get that choice,” Sugars said.

* ProgressNow New Mexico helps find funding for NM Political Report. No one at ProgressNow NM has any say in editorial decisions by NM Political Report, including the decision to use this story.