September 24, 2022

New Mexico AG Hector Balderas joins in amicus brief supporting lawsuit against Texas’ anti-abortion laws 

Courtesy photo

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas joined and a coalition of 21 attorneys general signed onto an amicus brief in support of Fund Texas Choice v. Paxton, a lawsuit waged to protect abortion access in other states from Texas anti-abortion laws.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat, joined 20 other attorneys general in signing the “friend of the court” brief supporting a Texas abortion fund fighting a legal battle to protect interstate travel for abortion care.

The brief, filed on Friday, supports the abortion fund’s motion to halt Texas abortion laws that violate the constitutional right to interstate travel by impeding pregnant individuals in Texas from crossing state lines to seek an abortion. According to the motion, Texas’ abortion laws unlawfully interfere with the constitutional right to interstate travel.

One of the concerns, according to the brief, is that thousands of individuals who are residents of states such as New Mexico, where abortion is legal, could be living in Texas for college, graduate school or serving as temporary workers and could find themselves in need of an abortion. 

Millions more travel to Texas as visitors, and they, too, could be in need of abortion care while traveling. The abortion fund, Fund Texas Choice, as well as a group of reproductive rights advocates and an obstetrics and gynecological physician Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, is suing in federal court to try to ensure that abortion patients who find themselves in Texas can legally travel to other states, such as New Mexico, where abortion is legal, to receive care.

According to a statement released by the 21 Democratic Attorneys General, Texas lawmakers have indicated that they intend to impede pregnant individuals’ ability to travel across state lines to obtain an abortion.

Texas lawmakers also intend to prohibit Texas individuals from crossing state lines to provide an abortion or to support a patient in need of an abortion.

One reproductive advocate, who did not wish to be identified, said during a reproductive roundtable held by U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-01, earlier this month that one abortion fund in New Mexico is now spending close to $1 million to provide funds for interstate travel for abortion in the last year, an increase of nearly 10,000 percent over previous years.

The amicus brief is led by California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order over the summer that protects abortion patients and providers in New Mexico from abortion hostile states, such as Texas, from obtaining records or seeking civil or criminal action. But the order could be rescinded by a future governor who holds different political views.

The brief also argues that Texas’ anti-abortion laws constitute a threat to public health.

“Texas’ interference with an individual’s right to travel when the purpose of that travel involves legal, out-of-state abortions results in irreparable harms, both within and beyond Texas borders. Texas’ laws are likely to cause unwanted pregnancies, imposing grave socioeconomic and health consequences, including complications resulting in death,” the brief states.

Balderas has previously stated that he supports abortion rights and would not participate in other states’ efforts to prosecute individuals seeking abortion in New Mexico.

“I will always protect New Mexicans and our healthcare providers from legal threats that infringe on constitutional rights, including the right to travel across state lines,” Balderas said in a statement.