Supreme Court action on abortion could prompt special session

Democrats in the state Senate say they still don’t have enough votes to repeal an old, unenforceable abortion ban that remains in New Mexico law. They believe a failed effort in the 2019 legislative session — when a handful of conservative Democrats joined Republicans to block it — could see the same results in this […]

Supreme Court action on abortion could prompt special session

Democrats in the state Senate say they still don’t have enough votes to repeal an old, unenforceable abortion ban that remains in New Mexico law.

They believe a failed effort in the 2019 legislative session — when a handful of conservative Democrats joined Republicans to block it — could see the same results in this year’s 30-day session.

But with the U.S. Supreme Court poised to hear a Louisiana case that is expected to test the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, Senate Democrats and Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham say they are prepared to hold a special legislative session to protect abortion rights in the state if the ruling is overturned.

“I think we’d be back in a heartbeat,” Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, said Wednesday, the 47th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling.

While some Democratic senators remain staunchly opposed to repealing the state’s old ban, Wirth said some of those votes might change if the state actually criminalized abortion.

After the Roe v. Wade ruling, state laws banning abortion were suspended. New Mexico is one of nine states that retain an unenforceable ban. If the ruling is overturned, procuring or providing an abortion — with a few exceptions— would become fourth-degree felony in the state.

Lujan Grisham has not included a repeal of the abortion ban on the agenda for the current session.

But Nora Myers Sackett, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Lujan Grisham is committed to protecting access to abortion and reproductive care, and also would support a special session if the Supreme Court made a ruling that put restrictions on the procedure.

“If the United States Supreme Court made the indefensible and reckless decision to overturn long-standing legal precedent, the governor would absolutely consider every possible recourse to upholding those protections here in New Mexico, including calling a special session,” Sackett said in an email.

Rep. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces, who has sponsored bills in past sessions to repeal the state’s abortion ban, said she is taking a “wait-and-see” approach this year.

In 2019, Ferrary, D-Las Cruces, and Rep. Georgene Louis, D-Albuquerque, sponsored House Bill 51 to repeal the ban, which sailed through the House but failed in the Senate when eight Democrats joined with 16 Republicans to defeat the measure.

Janet Williams, an abortion rights advocate who is president of Santa Fe National Organization for Women and is organizing a demonstration Thursday at the state Capitol, said her group and others also are biding their time when it comes to asking for legislation that would remove the abortion ban.

And Williams is not predicting what might happen in the Supreme Court. 

“I’m not projecting but hoping they’ll fall on the side of women keeping control of their own bodies,” she said.

In November, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in a case disputing a 2014 Louisiana law that requires any doctor providing abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.  Abortion rights advocates say the law serves only to shut down providers.

The court struck down a similar law in Texas in 2016 but now has more conservative justices.

“Roe v. Wade is coming up at the Supreme Court, and it’s about to be gutted,” said Marianna Anaya, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit advocacy group ProgressNow New Mexico*.

A ProgressNow truck parked outside the Capitol on Wednesday had a sign on one side saying, “Keep abortion safe and legal.”

The other side: “Voted against abortion access? We didn’t forget.”

“We’re running out of time to protect abortion access,” Anaya said.

On Thursday, a coalition of 15 organizations and state legislators will meet at 10 a.m. at the Capitol in observation of Roe v. Wade, one in a series of demonstrations planned nationwide.

Williams said the goal is to show support for the procedure and draw attention to bills for pregnant workers and paid family leave.

“We want to keep abortion safe and legal for those in New Mexico and hopefully the United States,” Williams said. “We also believe if you choose to have a baby, you should be taken care of.”

* ProgressNow New Mexico helps find funding for NM Political Report. No one at ProgressNow NM has any say in editorial decisions by NM Political Report, including the decision to use this story.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced on Thursday his legislative priorities for July’s special legislative session, including the creation of a crime victim’s unit to…
Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill, a Democrat from Silver City, won’t seek reelection in the general election in November, leaving SD 28, a swing…
Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…

A rare NM lizard is now listed as endangered

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added the dunes sagebrush lizard to the list of endangered species on Friday and is expected to designate…
Interior announces $520 million of funding for water projects

Interior announces $520 million of funding for water projects

The U.S. Department of Interior announced $520 million in funding for 57 projects throughout the United States to improve water infrastructure and drought resiliency…
Survivors, advocates plead for Speaker to allow RECA expansion vote

Survivors, advocates plead for Speaker to allow RECA expansion vote

Millie Chino of Laguna Pueblo teared up as she spoke about her spouse, who died in September due to a health condition linked to…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday $10 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act was awarded to six tribal nations and…
UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

Thursday, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved a land acquisition for a full-spectrum reproductive healthcare center, that will include abortion care,…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill, a Democrat from Silver City, won’t seek reelection in the general election in November, leaving SD 28, a swing…
UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

Thursday, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved a land acquisition for a full-spectrum reproductive healthcare center, that will include abortion care,…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
In response to Dobbs, the Biden administration finalizes a new rule to protect abortion patients

In response to Dobbs, the Biden administration finalizes a new rule to protect abortion patients

​The Biden administration finalized a new rule to add protections for reproductive healthcare information for patients. The Office of Civil Rights through the U.S.…
Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill, a Democrat from Silver City, won’t seek reelection in the general election in November, leaving SD 28, a swing…
Progressives going after incumbents in hot Democratic primaries

Progressives going after incumbents in hot Democratic primaries

By Justin Horwath, NM In Depth It’s a safe bet Democrats will barrel into 2025 with their supremacy intact at the New Mexico Legislature.…
Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

Thursday, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved a land acquisition for a full-spectrum reproductive healthcare center, that will include abortion care,…
Interior announces $520 million of funding for water projects

Interior announces $520 million of funding for water projects

The U.S. Department of Interior announced $520 million in funding for 57 projects throughout the United States to improve water infrastructure and drought resiliency…
Survivors, advocates plead for Speaker to allow RECA expansion vote

Survivors, advocates plead for Speaker to allow RECA expansion vote

Millie Chino of Laguna Pueblo teared up as she spoke about her spouse, who died in September due to a health condition linked to…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report