Two separate court rulings throws the future of abortion medication into uncertainty

Two conflicting rulings on Friday leave the future use of the abortion medication mifepristone uncertain, though because of one of the rulings, it could remain legal in New Mexico. There are two rulings in separate states that conflict with one another on the use of the abortion medication mifepristone and the judicial decisions both order the U.S. Federal Drug Administration to act differently with regard to the drug. The ruling made by a Texas federal district judge could force the FDA to remove mifepristone off the market after a seven-day injunction period. But, a ruling also made by a Washington state federal district judge could mean that in 17 states, including New Mexico, the drug would continue to be legally available. But, with two different rulings provided by two different judges that are in direct conflict with each other, there is considerable uncertainty as to the future of abortion medication, reproductive rights advocates said during a national press conference on Monday.

Abortion rights protestors rally in Washington D.C.

An anti-abortion federal judge in Texas could change abortion access in New Mexico

Update: The judge made his ruling Friday evening and invalidated the FDA approval though the judge stayed his own order for seven days to allow the FDA to appeal. A second federal judge in Washington ordered the FDA to make no changes to the availability of mifepristone. This story appears as originally written below. A federal district judge in Texas is expected to rule in the coming weeks on whether the abortion drug mifepristone can remain on the market. The case, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, was brought to the Amarillo-based federal district court, abortion advocates have said, because the sole federal judge there has ties to Christian-based organizations and has said before that he supports state bans on birth control.

Guv signs capital outlay bill, which includes $10 million pledge for reproductive clinic in Las Cruces

The day before the deadline to sign bills, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the capital outlay bill, which includes a $10 million pledge to build a full-spectrum reproductive health clinic in Las Cruces. HB 505 contains $1.2 billion worth of projects to be built across the state. Among those is Lujan Grisham’s $10 million pledge to build a full-spectrum reproductive health care clinic in Las Cruces. Lujan Grisham announced the pledge last summer, a few months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade when it ruled against a Mississippi abortion clinic that provided abortions up to 16 weeks. Several organizations have partnered to begin discussions on the future clinic.

Guv signs bill protecting abortion providers

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation that protects providers and patients from out-of-state efforts to criminalize or penalize through civil court the right to abortion in New Mexico. SB 13, Reproductive Health Provider Protections, codifies into law Lujan Grisham’s executive order announced last summer, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade through its Dobbs decision. It also protects those providing and seeking gender-affirming care. The new law, sponsored by state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, carries penalties of $10,000 for a violation. It prohibits state agencies from participating in an out-of-state effort to seek information about or from abortion or gender-affirming care providers.

‘Historic’ expansion of funding for pre-K announced Tuesday

The New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department announced on Tuesday what it calls a “historic” expansion of New Mexico pre-Kindergarten programs.

NMECECD Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky held a press conference in Albuquerque to discuss the funding expansion. With $98 million available to expand and enhance New Mexico pre-K  allocated by the Legislature for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins in July, the department seeks to expand both instructional hours and educator credentials; increase per student rate and supplemental funding; increase access and provide clarity for Head Start program grantees. For three-year-old children enrolled in early pre-K, the expansion could go from the current rate of $8,750 per child to $15,750 per child. That would be for organizations that apply for the extended plus program and would include 1,380 hours of instruction per year. For four-year-old children enrolled in pre-K, the expansion could go from $7,000 per child to $14,300 per child and would also increase the instructional hours to 1,380.

Transgender Resource Center is expanding its services

The Transgender Resource Center will expand into opening a transitional housing model. The new executive director, Michael Trimm, said he is looking at properties and that the goal is to be able to offer transitional housing to three-to-four individuals by the end of 2024. Trimm said this is a long cherished dream of TGRC. He called it coming “full circle.”

“Our founders envisioned a housing program. I’m happy to be the person who gets us over the finish line,” he said.

Court temporarily blocks local anti-abortion regulations

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.

Guv signs two bills that affect student health

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed two bills on Thursday that impact student health: one bill codifies School-Based Health Centers into state statute and the other will make free menstrual products available in every public school. HB 134, sponsored by state Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, requires a menstrual product dispensary in every girl’s bathroom in every public elementary, middle and high school and one placed in one boy’s bathroom in each school. The products will be free and several young women spoke during the legislative session, testifying during committee hearings about the need for these products to eliminate shame and help students stay focused on their studies and school sports. SB 397, sponsored by state Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, does not make any changes to  school-based health centers, but it does codify them into state statute to prevent the possibility that they could be eliminated based on political whim in the future. 

School-based health centers have been in existence in New Mexico for 25 years. The majority receive funding through the New Mexico Department of Health and DOH helps with logistics, but the local school districts determine if they want one and, if they do, what sorts of services are provided and which provider the school contracts with.

Guv signed two LGBTQ bills into law Friday

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed two LGBTQ bills into law on Friday. HB 207 extends the scope of the New Mexico Human Rights Act to include protections for LGBTQ individuals. Now, a public body cannot discriminate against an individual based on the person’s gender identity or sexual orientation. HB 31 eliminates an antiquated statute requiring publication of a name change. The New Mexico Human Rights Act, which was written into statute in 1969 and updated in 2003 banned a public school district from discriminating against a potential employee because the person identifies as LGBTQ but did not address whether a teacher could discriminate against a student.

How the Legislature addressed child well being

New Mexico continues to rank at the bottom on child well being indexes, but the 2023 Legislature passed some bills that advocates say can make an impact on that low ranking. A child tax credit was included in the final omnibus tax package and it will help improve racial and gender equity, Amber Wallin, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, told NM Political Report. HB 547, the omnibus tax bill, underwent multiple conference committees but the New Mexico Child Tax Credit survived the negotiations. It will, among other things, provide up to $600 per child annually as a child tax credit for families earning $25,000 or less a year. For households earning $25,000 to $50,000, the annual child tax credit will be $400 per child and for households earning $50,000 to $75,000, the annual child tax credit will be $200 per child if Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signs the bill into law.