The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade Friday morning, creating what individuals working on the front lines of reproductive access in New Mexico called a “public health emergency” during a press conference Friday afternoon. Farinaz Khan, a healthcare provider, said every abortion clinic in four states closed by Friday morning. “As women and people with uteruses, we are second class citizens in our own country. Our patients will be deeply harmed by this decision,” she said.
Although the media began focusing on the menstrual product shortage in recent weeks, grassroots organization Indigenous Women Rising have been focused on the shortage since at least the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rachel Lorenzo, Mescalero Apache/Laguna Pueblo/Xicana and co-founder of IWR, said that when Tribal governments began giving out COVID care packages at the start of the pandemic, IWR assessed the gaps and noticed items missing that affected menstruating individuals and babies. Lorenzo, who uses they/them pronouns, said IWR began supplying, free of charge, menstrual cups, discs and period panties to Indigenous menstruating people in the U.S. and Canada. “IWR started piloting a program to send reusable menstrual products to Indigenous people who are interested and [for whom] it might be out of reach financially and geographically,” they said. Lorenzo said this is not a “catchall” solution and the price problem remains persistent.
Drought doesn’t only impact the availability of food and water for people and, as dry conditions continue to grip the state even amid the start of monsoon season, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has urged residents to be “bear aware.”
Bear-human encounters tend to increase in drought times as wildlife moves into suburbs or even cities in search of resources.
In a press release issued earlier this month, Rick Winslow, a bear and cougar biologist with New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, said that droughts have historically led to more conflicts with bears “not only at camping and picnic sites, but also in more populated areas.”
Nick Forman is the carnivore and small mammal program manager for the department. He spoke with NM Political Report via phone about this topic. Bears, he said, are omnivorous and rely on food sources like acorns, currant berries and juniper berries. Last fall, he said, the state had decent production of these food sources and, currently, the juniper bushes have berries on them and wildflowers can also provide bears with food. “There’s definitely available food out there,” he said.
A poll commissioned by NM Political Report found that a majority of voters support abortion rights, including a law protecting abortion rights recently passed by the state legislature, and also are poised to approve dipping into the state’s massive land grant permanent fund for education funding. Abortion rights could be at the forefront of midterm elections as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to gut the landmark Roe v. Wade decision this summer. When asked in the poll conducted by Public Policy Polling if abortion should be always legal; legal with some limitations; illegal except for rape, incest or to save the mother’s life; or always illegal, a majority said it should be legal (with 30 percent saying always, 25 percent saying legal with limitations). Just 13 percent said it should always be illegal and 29 percent said it should be illegal except in the cases or rape, incest or to save the mother’s life. When asked about the new state law that would allow abortion to remain legal in New Mexico regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court decides, 53 percent said they supported the recently enacted law and 36 percent said they opposed it.
Late Friday, hearing examiners from the state entity that regulates electric utilities issued a recommendation to require the state’s largest electric utility to issue rate credits for customers. In the 119-page recommended decision, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission hearing examiners, Anthony Medeiros and Ashley Schannauer, used words like “scheming” and “guileful manipulation” of the Energy Transition Act to describe Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM)’s plans to keep customers paying for the San Juan Generating Station after the power plant closes. This comes as the PNM prepares to end its operation of the San Juan Generating Station once new solar resources come online. These solar projects were initially scheduled to be completed by the end of this month, but supply chain challenges have pushed the completion date back, and the plant is now expected to close at the end of September. One unit of the plant is scheduled to close at the end of this month and the other will close at the end of September.
Democrats hold leads in the races for Secretary of State and Attorney General, two high profile statewide positions. Races for Secretary of State across the nation, in states where the position is the chief elections officer, have received renewed attention this cycle because of efforts by many Republicans to restrict voting access or even outright overturn elections. And as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to overturn rights like those involving reproductive healthcare, the position of Attorney General is also increasingly important (although New Mexico has state laws with protections, unlike some other states). The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that 44 percent of voters supported Democrat Raúl Torrez, compared to 37 percent who favored Republican Jeremy Gay, with 19 percent who said they were not sure. The position is open because current Attorney General Hector Balderas is term limited and cannot run for a third consecutive term.