Sen. Craig Brandt talks about Glory's Law during a press conference. Other speakers included, from left to right, Glory's mother Christy Sellers, UNM Head Football Coach Danny Gonzales and Lt. Gov. Howie Morales.

Law to ban discrimination against organ donor recipients has support

Three legislators filed a bill to prevent patients from being denied an organ donation due to mental or physical disability from happening in New Mexico, dubbed Glory’s Law. Senate Minority Whip Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, Rep. Jenifer Jones, R-Deming, and Sen. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque are the sponsors of  SB 71. Glory’s Law is named for Christy Sellers’ youngest daughter, Glory, who is almost completely deaf, has Down Syndrome and other issues affecting her heart and lungs. “I heard about a story in another state where a baby was denied a kidney transplant solely based on that child having Down Syndrome,” Sellers said at a press conference about Glory’s Law Thursday. “Right now, (New Mexico) doesn’t have any laws in place to protect people with disabilities should they need a transplant, they could be denied solely based on having Down Syndrome solely based on things that don’t affect their quality of life, or make them any less worthy.” 

Seller and her family have adopted three disabled children including Glory.

Breast cancer detection bill could eliminate co-pays, save lives

A bill to help breast cancer patients and, potentially, reduce mortality rates in New Mexico awaits a hearing in the current legislative session. The bill, Breast Exam Health Coverage, or HB 27, would end cost-sharing costs for individuals who require additional breast imaging to detect breast cancer according to Rachel Birch, the director of State Policy and Advocacy for Susan G. Komen, a breast cancer research and advocacy organization. Rep. Christine Chandler, D-Los Alamos, is sponsoring the bill. Chandler said by email that “early detection is key to treating breast cancer.”

“Unfortunately, right now patients who are at higher risk or need follow-up tests after an abnormal mammogram often face out-of-pocket costs that are extremely burdensome or prohibitive, even with commercial insurance. By eliminating those costs, we can make it easier for patients to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages, which means more New Mexicans will have access to lifesaving care,” Chandler said.

Abortion rights protestors rally in Washington D.C.

2022 Top Stories #1: Dobbs decision

Note: Every year, we count down the top ten stories of the year, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. See our entire countdown of 2022 top stories, to date, here

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June, marking a significant shift in decades of judicial decision-making as well as creating what many called a public health emergency. The court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturned nearly 50 years of precedent. The court said in its 6-3  opinion that it thought the decision should go back to the states to decide. The outcome of the decision has led to 44 states to ban or restrict abortion care in 2022, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights organization.

Governor cites universal free school meals as legislative priority

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham spoke at the 5th annual Bloomberg American Health Summit in Philadelphia Tuesday where she said “in New Mexico, starting right now, no one pays for a meal in school.”

The statement was said to a roomful of applause, however it is not accurate. “Free school lunches for all New Mexico K-12 students will be part of the governor’s agenda that she will pursue in the upcoming legislative session,” spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett said. “For the past two school years, federal funding waivers enabled all students to eat for free – the governor’s initiative will ensure that every New Mexico student has access to free and healthy, high quality school meals by covering the price of breakfast and lunch for tens of thousands of students that currently do not qualify for free or reduced-price meals.”

As the details have not been made public, Albuquerque Public Schools spokeswoman Monica Armenta said that APS “supports programs intended to cover meal costs for all students.”

APS currently has about 45,000 students of about 89,000 students who qualify for free or reduced meals, Armenta said. Statewide, about 75 percent of students qualify for free school meals, according to Public School Review. The 2023 legislative session begins Jan.

New limited program provides some in-home nursing visits postpartum

The state will initiate a new program for some new parents of newborns that will provide limited in-home nursing visits within three weeks postpartum. The New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department are partnering with University of New Mexico Hospital to provide the service. The start of the program is limited to individuals who reside in Bernalillo County and who receive prenatal care at the UNM Eubank Women’s Health Clinic and deliver at UNM Hospital. A spokesperson for NMDOH said growth of the project depends on “a wide range of community partners and their support for the work to move forward.”

The program provides up to three nurse visits, with the first visit being in person. The nurse checks in on support for the parent’s health care, support for infant care, support for a safe home and support for the parents, according to a news release.

Her child was stillborn at 39 weeks. She blames a system that doesn’t always listen to mothers.

The day before doctors had scheduled Amanda Duffy to give birth, the baby jolted her awake with a kick.

A few hours later, on that bright Sunday in November 2014, she leaned back on a park bench to watch her 19-month-old son Rogen enjoy his final day of being an only child. In that moment of calm, she realized that the kick that morning was the last time she had felt the baby move.

She told herself not to worry. She had heard that babies can slow down toward the end of a pregnancy and remembered reading that sugary snacks and cold fluids can stimulate a baby’s movement. When she got back to the family’s home in suburban Minneapolis, she drank a large glass of ice water and grabbed a few Tootsie Rolls off the kitchen counter.

State issues public health order in response to a surge of pediatric respiratory cases

The state issued an emergency public health order Thursday in response to a surge of pediatric cases and hospitalizations of respiratory viruses. The New Mexico Department of Health issued the public health emergency order Thursday, urging parents to visit hospital emergency rooms with sick children only if the child shows signs of severe illness, such as significant trouble breathing. New Mexico and a few other states are experiencing some of the highest rates of influenza in the U.S., according to the NMDOH. The DOH said in a news release that the order is necessary as hospitals and emergency rooms are operating above their licensed capacity due to the surge in respiratory viruses. The surge is causing an unsustainable strain on health care providers, according to the release.

Report outlines hospital pricing issues for uninsured

A new report found that some New Mexico hospitals charge uninsured patients more than insurance companies and government health plans for the same services. Prepared by the New Mexico Center for Law and Poverty, the Hospital Pricing for Uninsured Patients in New Mexico follows one produced earlier this year. This updated report includes newer data. The New Mexico Center for Law and Poverty provided the report to the Interim Legislative Health and Human Services Committee this week. The study examined hospital prices for 17 services across 43 New Mexico hospitals.

How Mariposa Fund helps undocumented people access abortions

Medicaid covers the cost of abortion in New Mexico if the pregnant person is a legal resident. But undocumented people who reside in the state, many of whom are often vulnerable, lack Medicaid coverage to pay for abortion care, said Italia Aranda, a volunteer with Mariposa Fund. The fund helps undocumented pregnant people pay for an abortion. The fund came out of a need that a group of abortion providers in New Mexico recognized in 2016. “In order for a patient to receive money from Mariposa Fund, they have to seek services in New Mexico.

Head of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains retires after 18 years at helm

Vicki Cowart, president and chief executive officer for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, was once thrown out of a business club in Caspar, Wyoming, for being a woman. It was a different time then, one in which job interviewers didn’t hesitate to ask women if they planned to have children and, if so, would they keep working, she said. Now such questions would be considered discriminatory and, potentially, actionable but Cowart, who has been leading PPRM since 2003, said facing repeated discrimination as a young professional, reading feminist literature and participating as an activist in her off time is why the last half of her career has been devoted to ensuring pregnant people have access to abortion in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada. Cowart announced earlier this fall her plans to retire. She said she intends to continue until the board has found a replacement.