March 31, 2023

Court temporarily blocks local anti-abortion regulations

Andy Lyman

The New Mexico Supreme Court

The New Mexico Supreme Court halted anti-abortion ordinances pending a review on if they comply with a new state law. 

The court issued a stay to the counties of Roosevelt and Lea and the municipalities of Hobbs and Clovis on abortion-regulating ordinances on Friday.

The court’s action comes in response to New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez’s filing a stay request with the court and the court is requesting all parties to file briefs regarding what effect the Reproductive  and Gender-Affirming Health Care Freedom Act has on the local anti-abortion regulations they passed in the last five months.

The Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care bill, recently signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, was designed to end what bill sponsor, state Rep. Linda Serrato, D-Santa Fe, frequently referred to as a “patchwork” of abortion access around the state. The new law prohibits local bodies from discriminating against abortion care and gender-affirming healthcare.

The counties of Roosevelt and Lea and the Hobbs and Clovis passed anti-abortion ordinances in the last five months in an effort to make abortion medication, which is federally approved, from being sent by mail and to establish business license regulations for abortion clinics. Some of the ordinances carry heavy fines if violated. Currently, there are no abortion clinics in any of these locales, but the local elected officials spoke during public meetings of fear of abortion clinics coming to their locales in response to Texas’ ban on abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer in its Dobbs decision. 

Abortion providers and abortion fund providers in New Mexico have repeatedly expressed overwhelming numbers of abortion patients have been traveling to New Mexico since the Texas six-week ban on abortion in 2021 and since the Dobbs decision, more clinics have opened up in the state’s two largest cities.

Whole Women’s Health told national media last year it was considering moving from Texas to a town in eastern New Mexico but it opened a clinic in Albuquerque, instead, this month.