Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti reportedly told Legacy Church Senior Pastor Steve Smothermon that he wants to ban abortion if elected.
Ronchetti has publicly stated that, if elected, he will seek to ban what he calls “partial-birth abortions” by making it illegal after 15 weeks. Ronchetti said in a recent Twitter message that “I believe permitting abortion up to 15 weeks and in cases of rape, incest and when a mother’s life is at risk.”
“Partial-birth abortion” is not a medical term, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
During a Republican primary debate hosted by KOAT-TV in May, Ronchetti did not explicitly answer the question of whether he would ban or restrict abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. He said he was “firmly pro-life” and “we will protect life.”
He also said he wants to “work with anyone we can to say let’s get things into line with where the morality of the state of New Mexico is.” But he did not explain what he meant. Polls indicate that the majority of New Mexicans approve of a woman’s right to abortion.
Related: Majority of voters support NM’s law protecting abortion access
But Smothermon said during a Sunday sermon at Legacy Church in Albuquerque that Ronchetti told him privately that “his goal would be to end abortion in New Mexico.”
“How do I know that? Because I talked to him for hours,” Smothermon told the congregation.
Ronchetti’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment from NM Political Report by email. Phone calls to his campaign were not answered and the voicemail was full.
But his campaign told KOB-TV that Smothermon’s televised pulpit statements were inaccurate and his position continues to be that he wants to ban abortion after 15 weeks with a few exceptions.
But, Smothermon stood by his sermon, emailing the following message to NM Political Report:
“Mark was clear with me that he is personally pro-life and what he intends to do as governor, which is identical to what he says in his campaign commercial. My comments were not intended to convey his strategy as Governor. I believe Mark is committed to ending the terrible practice of late-term abortion in our state, a practice that the current governor sadly embraces.”
Kendall Witmer, a spokesperson for Lujan Grisham’s campaign, called Ronchetti “dangerous.” Lujan Grisham supported the repeal of the 1969 ban on abortion, which could have been a trigger law when the court overturned Roe v. Wade, had it still been in the New Mexico criminal code.
“Mark Ronchetti knows that his goal to criminalize abortion is out of touch with the majority of New Mexicans, so he’s resorted to lying in order to trick New Mexicans into electing him to the Roundhouse. One thing is clear: Mark Ronchetti is dangerous for women who depend on abortion health care access across New Mexico. The rights of women to make decisions about their own bodies in New Mexico depends on reelecting Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham,” Witmer said.