New Mexico Supreme Court sets date for oral arguments on anti-abortion ordinances 

The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear oral argument over the legality of anti-abortion ordinances some smaller jurisdictions passed last winter, creating a “patchwork” of abortion access in the state. The oral arguments will be heard at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 13 and the parties will argue the legality of those anti-abortion ordinances now that the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Healthcare law applies. The law, which prohibits public bodies from discriminating against reproductive or gender-affirming healthcare, passed the legislature in March. New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez filed an emergency petition for writ of mandamus and request for stay with the New Mexico Supreme Court in March regarding Lea and Roosevelt counties and the cities of Hobbs and Clovis because all four had passed anti-abortion ordinances during the winter despite the fact that abortion is legal in New Mexico. 

The legislature passed HB 7, the bill that prohibits public bodies from discriminating against abortion or gender-affirming care, in March.

U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rules to return mifepristone to earlier regulations

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday in a split decision in favor of returning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion medication mifepristone to its 2016 regulations. The decision agrees with U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s decision in part and disagrees with it in part. But, the Fifth Circuit’s decision would keep the FDA’s original approval of the drug, made in 2000, in place. It would also keep the generic version of mifepristone on the market. But, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision agreed with Kacsmaryk’s earlier decision in part, which, if allowed to stand, would require the FDA to return to its 2016 regulations around the drug.

NM joins in amicus on lawsuit over Idaho law banning abortion information

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general who filed an amicus brief on Tuesday in support of a lawsuit against the state of Idaho due to a state law aimed at curbing efforts to help Idaho minors who seek an out-of-state abortion. The Idaho law could have repercussions for individuals in other states, such as New Mexico, where abortion is legal and safe. New Mexico has no barriers for minors who are 14 years old or older to receive abortion care. The amicus brief cites the danger that some minors face if they must seek parental consent for an abortion. Advocates of abortion care call parental consent TRAP laws [Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers] which are intended to place barriers in the way of care. 

But Idaho has enacted a law that would criminalize individuals in other states where abortion is legal if those individuals help an Idaho minor seek an abortion.

How the Dobbs decision helped lead New Mexico to become a safety state for LGBTQ individuals

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision unleashed “some real darkness” for the LGBTQ community nationally, but New Mexico responded with a landmark legislative year for LGBTQ rights. The Human Rights Campaign declared a national state of emergency earlier this month for LGBTQ Americans because more than 75 anti-LGBTQ bills have been signed into law in 2023 in states across the country. The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ organization, calls the number of anti-LGBTQ bills “unprecedented.”

Marshall Martinez, executive director for Equality New Mexico, said this is “arguably the most politically dangerous time in American history for queer and trans folks.”

“We can’t deny that when this Supreme Court was seated, when they issued the Dobbs decision, they signaled very clearly to the state and local governments across the country, you can do what you want to attack bodily autonomy and we’re not going to stop you,” Martinez told NM Political Report. In the Dobbs decision, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion that the court needed to revisit other cases that rest on the 14th amendment, including Obergefell v. Hodges, which codified same-sex marriage, and Lawrence v. Texas, which codified same-sex relationships. Adrien Lawyer, director of education and co-founder of Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, said he doesn’t see how reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights are separate politically.

More doctors seek abortion training in New Mexico because of Dobbs

Medical residents from other states are receiving instruction at the University of New Mexico Center for Reproductive Health in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. One way that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade last year, has impacted abortion care across the U.S. is in medical training. Obstetrics and gynecology students studying in states where abortion is banned can no longer receive integrated abortion care training into their years of study.  Dr. Jody Steinauer, director of the University of California-San Francisco Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, said during a press conference this month that OB-GYN medical students now have to travel to states, such as New Mexico where abortion is legal, to study abortion care. “Normally, an OB-GYN provider would receive integrated abortion care training over the years of the student’s studies. Now, medical students in states where abortion is banned are only receiving about four weeks of training,” Steinauer said.

A look back at what the last year has wrought

A week ago this coming Saturday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade and upending nearly 50 years of precedent. But the story really starts before June 24, 2022. Abortion is legal in New Mexico and remains so in part because advocates began working years ago to ensure that it would continue to be legal in the event the political makeup of the court changed. Joan Lamunyon Sanford, executive director of  abortion fund provider New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, said that in October of 2020, when the U.S. Senate confirmed Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, she knew “we would lose Roe.”

“We were anticipating it as far back as that. We started comparing it to a natural disaster, though this is a created disaster,” she said.

Two reproductive healthcare laws go into effect today

Two bills that will strengthen New Mexico’s protections for reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare in New Mexico became law on Friday. HB 7 and SB 13 both passed the 2023 legislature and were signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham this year. HB 7, Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Healthcare Act, prohibits discrimination against individuals seeking reproductive or gender-affirming healthcare. SB 13, Reproductive Health Provider Protections Act, is also commonly referred to as the shield law because it shields providers and patients from civil or criminal liability for abortion or gender-affirming care in New Mexico. It further shields reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare providers by prohibiting licensing boards in their specialties from discrimination.

SOS: The petitions seeking to repeal laws are not legitimate, first of several cases about it dismissed

Across New Mexico, a series of veto referendum petitions are being circulated by a conservative organization. These petitions, although not official, are an attempt to repeal six bills passed by the legislature during this year’s regular session. The New Mexico Family Action Movement, which claims that rights were taken away from New Mexicans by the legislature during the legislative session due to the passage of these bills, is circulating the petitions. The bills involve abortion rights, school-based health centers, gender identity, automatic voter registration and the new permanent absentee voter list and mandatory training for poll watchers and clarifying voter roll updates. However, the petitions being circulated are not official, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

New website seeks to combat anti-abortion misinformation

A new website that offers information on abortion clinics and abortion fund providers and also debunks anti-abortion misinformation launched on Monday. The website, New Mexico Abortion Info, is sponsored by a coalition of abortion rights organizations in New Mexico. The new website provides accurate information about where to find reliable abortion clinics staffed with licensed, medically trained providers in New Mexico, as well as answers to some common anti-abortion misinformation and a list of New Mexico-based abortion fund providers. The website also offers a list of organizations that abortion rights supporters have said often try to confuse an abortion patient and individuals seeking prenatal care but are not medically licensed clinics and, reportedly, deceive patients instead. Jacqueline Aguirre, communications specialist for ProgressNow New Mexico,* said the website will be updated monthly.

Planned Parenthood clinics in New Mexico expand, offering medication abortion care at all locations

As New Mexico continues to be a state that offers legal abortion services, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains opened a new clinic in Las Cruces in May and expanded services at its Farmington location to include medication abortion. Adrienne Mansanares, chief executive officer and president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said the new Las Cruces clinic began seeing patients and offering medication abortion up to 11 weeks the second week of May. The Farmington Planned Parenthood clinic began offering medication abortion a week later. The Albuquerque Planned Parenthood, which has been planning a larger building for a few years, is expecting to open its new and expanded clinic in August, Mansanares, told NM Political Report. In the current abortion landscape, safety is a constant consideration.