February 22, 2023

STI prevention bill heads to Senate floor

The New Mexico State Capitol, or Roundhouse Wikicommons.

A bill to help prevent sexually transmitted infections passed the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee Tuesday after a party-line vote.

SB 132, STI Prevention and Treatment, is a bill that will eliminate co-pays and cost sharing to remove financial barriers to seeking screening and treatment as a way of increasing prevention. Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, sponsors the bill.

The bill passed 6-4, along party lines. State Sens. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho and Ron Griggs, R-Alamogordo, all took issue with the fact that the bill does not set age limits on who can access STI testing and treatment.

“A 12-year-old can be given a condom even though it’s not legal for them to engage in sexual activity. There’s where I have a problem,” Brandt said.

Stewart said she understood Republican concerns but said “it’s important not to think about this personally.”

“It just doesn’t happen that you have an 8-year-old walk into Planned Parenthood. That’s not the experience. We’ve got that consent already there [in federal law]. I hope you think about this, what it’s really trying to do, which is stop this pandemic [of STIs] among 18-to-24 year olds. That’s really the purpose of this bill,” she said.

The bill heads next to the Senate floor.