Bill to protect women’s right to abortion passes U.S. House of Representatives

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health Protection Act on Friday by 218 to 211 largely along party lines. One Texas Democrat voted against it while all Republicans voted against the bill. U.S. Representatives Melanie Stansbury of New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, and Teresa Leger Fernández New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District, both Democrats, voted for the bill. The bill would protect women’s right to an abortion in every state and end gestational bans and other restrictions to reproductive access. The bill is unlikely to pass the U.S. Senate.

NM-based abortion fund twice as busy as pre-pandemic

This month, New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, an Albuquerque-based abortion fund, has helped 28 patients get an abortion, up from 15 in September 2020 when fears of COVID-19 prevented travel and 21 in September 2019. And the month of September is not yet over, Brittany Defeo, New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice program manager, pointed out. The increase in demand is due to the Texas six-week gestational abortion ban that went into effect at the beginning of the month. Defeo said the coalition is the last abortion fund most patients apply to because what the coalition offers – help with accommodations and trips to the airport, bus or train station – are services needed by the most economically perilous who need an abortion later in pregnancy which requires an overnight stay. But because of the Texas law, the coalition is now seeing patients request their services even before 10 weeks of gestation because the patient needs to travel to New Mexico to take abortion medication.

New Mexico AG joins suit to fight Texas six-week gestational abortion ban

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas joined attorneys general from 22 other states and the District of Columbia on an amicus brief in support of the U.S. Attorney General’s suit against Texas’ six-week gestation ban. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is the lead on the brief but Balderas spoke along with Healey during a press conference held virtually on Wednesday to discuss the amicus brief and the Texas law that went into effect at the beginning of September. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced last week the U.S. Department of Justice is suing Texas to stop the unconstitutional six-week gestational abortion ban. The attorney’s general amicus brief is a document that provides support to the DOJ’s lawsuit. Calling the Texas six-week gestational ban “another reckless attempt at Texas restricting the rights of women and families across this country,” Balderas cited the various ways the Texas law is harming individuals living in New Mexico.

U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell compares abortion to eugenics

In a tweet earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell equated abortion with eugenics. Herrell’s tweet on Monday was a response to a clip from an NBC broadcaster who was commenting that the state of Texas is “running over” women’s constitutional rights to obtain an abortion since that state’s six-week gestational ban went into effect at the beginning of September. “Of course, @JoeNBC is completely wrong. Abortion is not “enumerated” in the Constitution, specifically or otherwise, & its invention as a right in Roe v. Wade rests on garbage legal reasoning. America will be a better place when abortion joins eugenics on the ash heap of history,” she wrote in her tweet.

Early childcare education advocates push for $15 an hour minimum wage

Without wage parity, New Mexico cannot grow its early childcare education, according to the grassroots organization, OLÉ New Mexico. OLÉ New Mexico held a virtual meeting Thursday evening to bring attention to the low wages early childcare educators make in New Mexico. 

According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, early childcare workers earned, on average, $12.24 per hour in 2020. In New Mexico, the median early childcare worker salary was even lower, at $10.26 an hour in 2020. That amounts to $21,340 annually, which is below the current poverty level of $26,200 for a family of four. One woman who spoke, Ivydel Natachu, said she has been an early childcare educator in New Mexico for 16 years.

Breast cancer screenings remain down but breast cancer incidence is up in New Mexico

A University of New Mexico Cancer Center oncologist said she and other providers are seeing an increase in the amount of people diagnosed with breast cancer in the state. Dr. Ursa Brown-Glaberman, medical oncologist at the UNM Cancer Comprehensive Center, said the increase in cancer diagnosis began in fall of 2020. She said providers “saw what we expected; a whole lot of cancer out there not being detected.”

“As clinicians, we saw a huge wave of diagnosis. We were incredibly busy [in the] fall [of 2020] and spring [of 2021] and there were more patients than we normally see with new breast cancers. We saw women who skipped mammograms for a year.

DOH: Pregnant people should get vaccinated to prevent severe illness

The New Mexico Department of Health is encouraging women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant to get vaccinated because COVID-19 during pregnancy can lead to complications. DOH issued a statement Thursday reminding the public the importance of vaccinations against COVID-19 for pregnant people. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued guidance that vaccines are safe for pregnant people. The overall risk for severe illness is low, according to the CDC, but pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to suffer severe illness from COVID-19 when compared to those who are not pregnant.   

Severe illness can include hospitalization, intensive care, ventilator use or other breathing assistance and, possibly, death, according to the statement. The CDC issued a warning that pregnant people who contract COVID-19 are at an increased risk for preterm birth and could be at an increased risk for other adverse pregnancy outcomes comparable to pregnant people who do not contract COVID-19.

Study: Women may pay more than men for car insurance

With the exception of 16-to-25-year olds, a study found that some women pay more than men for car insurance in New Mexico, according to a consumer advocacy group. According to the data, provided by Consumer Federation of America, the difference in annual average pay rates between a single woman and a single man are small as long as all other factors are equal. But, if a woman has a poor credit history, the rate differences between what that woman pays compared to what a man with good credit history pays can be considerable, according to the data. One example is a 35-year-old single female driver with a perfect driving record but poor credit who lives in zip code 87121, which encompasses an area of Albuquerque’s Westside and west of Albuquerque. This hypothetical female pays, on average, $621.20 more annually for car insurance than a male with better credit credit.

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains expands telehealth to help patients in New Mexico

To make reproductive health care more accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains has created an app to help patients in New Mexico. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains announced the app to help patients obtain medication contraceptives and urinary tract infection (UTI) treatment during the pandemic. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains said this will help those already facing barriers to accessing care. Communities of color, people with low incomes and young people are disproportionately affected by the public health crisis, Adrienne Mansanares, PPRM chief experience officer, said in a statement. “Expanding telehealth is an important step to making reproductive care more accessible in New Mexico, and to continue to serve the communities who rely on us for high-quality, affordable, compassionate care.