November 9, 2022

Legislator: Democrats have ‘crucial’ time to pass reproductive legislation

The New Mexico State Capitol, or Roundhouse Wikicommons.

With Democrats maintaining a large lead in the state House of Representatives and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham reelected for another four years, the Legislature is in a position to pass reproductive rights legislation, according to a Democratic legislator.

State Rep. Linda Serrato, D-Santa Fe, called the next two years “crucial” to passing reproductive rights legislation. She said her focus is on expanding access to reproductive healthcare.

“This election spoke volumes. We have a majority female House and a governor who supports bodily autonomy. This is the moment to make sure protections are in place and let the opportunity grow for people when they’re faced with pregnancy to get the healthcare they need,” Serrato said.

Democrats also make up the majority in the state Senate. In 2020, six Democrat state Senators who opposed abortion were routed during the primary election.

Lujan Grisham largely ran on her record of protecting abortion rights over the last four years, including the passage of the 2021 Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act, which repealed an antiquated law poised to become a trigger law to outlaw abortion, had it remained on the books, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.

One of the ways Lujan Grisham set herself apart from her Republican opponent, Mark Ronchetti, was her position on reproductive rights. In addition to signing the repeal law, she issued two executive orders this past summer. One protects reproductive patients and providers; the other will expand reproductive healthcare by allocating $10 million to help build a full-spectrum reproductive healthcare facility in Doña Ana County.  

Serrato said she is still in conversation with community groups and reproductive rights activists about possible legislation going forward but she said one way in which the legislature may move forward is to consider Lujan Grisham’s executive orders.

Related: Guv issues executive order to further protect abortion access in New Mexico

“We’re looking at her executive orders for direction and where we need to be going. We want to make sure there is access to healthcare and that people are not scared to use it,” she said.

Serrato said she would also welcome a bill to appropriate funds to increase access to reproductive health, including abortion care.

Related: Guv pledges $10 million for clinic in Doña Ana County

Serrato said that when she was pregnant with her first child, she experienced a complication that required weekly visits to her provider in Santa Fe. She said she often met with other pregnant individuals who also required weekly visits but they had to drive in from locations far away.

She said access to healthcare should not be a privilege.

Serrato made a connection between full spectrum reproductive care availability and maternal mortality rates.

“The more we restrict it [access], the more lives are in danger,” she said.

Serrato did not say if Legislators will try to codify abortion care by crafting a bill that would ensure it remains legal in the state. Lujan Grisham has said she would support such a bill.

Nora Meyers Sackett, Lujan Grisham’s press secretary, said through email the governor’s office works closely with legislative leadership and that “proposals will be formalized for the upcoming session as it nears.”