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.

Paid family and medical leave: Ramping up with new strategy to pass the legislature in 2024

The Southwest Women’s Law Center is holding its first of 11 town halls in Albuquerque this week to both discuss a proposed bill to provide paid family and medical leave that will be introduced in the 2024 legislature but also to ask the public to share stories about what this bill would mean to them if it becomes law. The proposal has been introduced in the legislature since 2019 with the exception of the 2022 session. That year, legislators passed a memorial instead that established a task force to bring various stakeholders to the table to arrive at a bill that addressed competing interests. Legislators introduced the bill, which would enable employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid time off for a new child or for a major health event, again in the 2023 legislative session. The bill passed the Senate, b died in the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee when a few Democrats sided with Republicans and voted against it in the final week of the session.

Report emphasizes impacts of climate change on children’s health

Children are at greater risk to pollutants and various deleterious effects caused by climate change, including behavioral health risks, a new report found. Aspects of climate change, such as increased wildfire, extreme heat, air and water pollution, have a larger impact on children than adults, according to the report compiled by New Mexico Voices for Children. Children’s bodies and immune systems are still developing and they drink more water and breathe in more air per body weight than adults. This makes them more susceptible to contamination. New Mexico Voices for Children released the report at the end of July, which the United Nations declared to be the hottest on record before the month came to an end.

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.

State launches safe sleep practices information to prevent SUID

The state is launching a Safe Sleep New Mexico campaign to share information with new parents and caregivers about safe sleeping practices for newborns to reduce the number of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death. With 43 babies who died in 2021 because of SUID, the syndrome accounted for nearly 20 percent of infant deaths in New Mexico in 2021. The deaths are often caused by accidental suffocation due to unsafe sleep practices, such as babies sleeping on their stomachs, sharing an adult bed, sleeping on the couch or in a car seat with soft toys or bedding. The Safe Sleep New Mexico campaign will try to educate the public through outreach to expand community-based promotion of safe sleep practices and promote resources to improve safe sleep environments. Multiple state agencies coordinated to develop the campaign along with numerous community partners.

Home visiting program struggles to grow participation as funding increases

Legislative allocations for the Early Childhood Education and Care Department’s home visiting program have increased, but family participation remains low, a new legislative report found. The Legislative Finance Committee held an interim hearing last week to hear the findings on the ECECD’s home visiting program. Home visiting in the state is expected to generate a return on investment ranging from $1 to $14 on every public dollar spent. Home visiting has expanded with funding increases by 216 percent since Fiscal Year 2017. But, the report found most eligible children remain unserved and families that do enroll in the program have a high dropout rate, with only 11 percent of families completing the two-year program.

With end of public health emergency, thousands in danger of Medicaid disenrollment without action

Individuals receiving a large, turquoise envelope through the mail should open it because it could be from the New Mexico Human Services Department informing the family they are losing Medicaid coverage. With the end of the federal public health emergency in May, individuals who have not recertified or shown documentation to prove eligibility over the last three years will lose Medicaid coverage. Lorelei Kellogg, New Mexico Human Services Department Medicaid director, told NM Political Report that the federal public health emergency came with “pretty strict mandates about disenrolling people,” from Medicaid if they have not recertified or have not provided documentation proving eligibility. Theresa Noedel, Holy Cross Medical Center benefit navigation coordinator in Taos, said many people don’t realize they’ve lost their Medicaid coverage until they are at a hospital or a doctor’s office and the medical staff tell the patient they do not have insurance. Noedel said that when patients learn they’ve lost their Medicaid coverage through a doctor’s office or hospital, they are often “freaking out.”

“Especially if they don’t have the money to pay for care or medication,” Noedel said.

Reproductive groups worry about hospital’s merger with Catholic-based hospital system

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and Bold Futures sent a letter to Jim Heckert, chief executive officer of Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center, expressing concern about the proposed merger of the Alamogordo-based hospital with Catholic-based Christus Health. The ACLU-NM and Bold Futures outline several concerns regarding the proposed merger which, according to the letter, is set to take place July 1. Their primary concern is how the merger will impact reproductive healthcare, healthcare for LGBTQ individuals and end-of-life care because Christus is a Catholic-based medical center. GCRMC and Christus did not respond to requests for comment. Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center is the only level III trauma center in the region and, in addition to serving individuals living in Otero County, it also serves men and women based at Holloman Air Force Base and members of the Mescalero Apache Reservation.

These chairs represent four missing and murdered Indigenous individuals during the Not Invisible Act commission hearing to gather information on how the federal government can improve its response.

Not Invisible Act commission stops in Albuquerque to hear testimony on missing and murdered Indigenous individuals

The Not Invisible Act commission is hearing testimony this week in Albuquerque to gather information about missing and murdered Indigenous women and relatives. The commission’s listening session in Albuquerque, which runs through Friday, is one of several hearings nationwide which started in Tulsa in April and will conclude in Billings in July to hear about state-wide problems and efforts regarding missing and murdered Indigenous women and relatives.  

The commission will use the information gathered during the listening tour to compile a report in October to recommend how the government can better respond to the epidemic. The report will go to the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, Congress and other federal partners. The Not Invisible Act, sponsored by former U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, who represented New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District and now serves as secretary of the Interior, became law in 2019 and increased coordination to identify and combat violent crime within Native land and against Native individuals. Haaland drafted the bill in response to the missing and murdered Indigenous people and human trafficking problem.