September 15, 2022

Ronchetti calls for constitutional amendment on abortion

Screenshot from Mark Ronchetti campaign ad

Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti wants a constitutional amendment to determine the legality of abortion.

Ronchetti announced that he wants to “put it on a statewide ballot so everyone gets a say” in a new TV ad he released today. In the ad, Ronchetti sits next to his wife, Krysty. 

He says, “No politician should decide this” and describes his own position as wanting to “end later term abortion and protect access to healthcare” and describes Democratic incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham’s position as “abortion up to birth, no limits.”

New Mexico’s state constitution only allows legislation to be done through the state legislature. This means that voter referendums or special elections cannot take place. 

The only exception is amending the state’s constitution, which can be done if a proposed amendment passes both the state House and Senate with a majority of votes, after which it would be sent to voters at the next general election.

Democrats currently hold majorities in both the state House and Senate. All House seats are up for reelection in November, and Democrats are considered favored to keep a majority. Senate seats are not up for reelection until 2024.

The Ronchetti campaign confirmed to NM Political Report that he was calling for a constitutional amendment. 

“The language would be determined through the legislative process, just like any other constitutional amendment,” spokesman Ryan Sabel said.

A spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham’s campaign said, “Abortion is already on the ballot this November.” 

“Mark Ronchetti’s latest plan to ban abortion through a constitutional amendment is indicative of a spiraling candidate who continues to try to spin his anti-abortion extremism to cover up the fact that he’s determined to punish New Mexico women and doctors,” the spokeswoman, Delaney Corcoran, said.

The ad shows the growing importance of abortion in the election following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to overturn Roe v. Wade. In that decision, called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court overturned the decades-long precedent of Roe.

The Democratic Party of New Mexico pointed to a Washington Post piece that showed Ronchetti and other Republicans changed language on their campaign websites about abortion. Gone was language that said “Life should be protected — at all stages” and in its place language that said he would “seek a middle ground” on the issue.

Ronchetti has said since the primary that he supports a ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions.

And earlier this year, a prominent megachurch pastor said he was told privately by Ronchetti that the Republican nominee’s “goal would be to end abortion in New Mexico.” The campaign disputed the pastor’s statements.

Earlier this year in Kansas, voters decisively rejected a proposal that would have said there was no right to an abortion.

An Albuquerque Journal poll found that 35 percent of likely voters believe that abortion should always be legal, 22 percent said it should be legal with some limitations, 25 percent say it should be illegal except for cases of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life and just 12 percent say it should always be illegal.

In June, before the Dobbs decision, a poll conducted for NM Political Report found that 30 percent says abortion should always be legal, 25 percent said it should be legal with limitations, 29 percent said it should be illegal except in the cases or rape, incest or to save the mother’s life and just 13 percent said it should always be illegal. Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, introduced legislation that would create an abortion ban after 15 weeks nationwide.

Ronchetti and Lujan Grisham will face Libertarian candidate Karen Bedonie in November’s general election.