New reproductive rights group forms in Otero County

The fall of Roe v. Wade in June led three women to form a reproductive rights group in Otero County. Natalie Wilkins, Shari Adkisson and Marylouise Kuti forged New Voices Otero in response to the leak of the U.S. Supreme Court draft document of its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Healthcare decision in May as an offshoot of their initial protest activity. Despite the potential for backlash, they told NM Political Report they believe being vocal is important on issues such as reproductive rights but, also, already looking ahead, on social justice issues as they move forward. New Voices Otero spoke out against the resolutions passed by both the Otero County Commission and Alamogordo City Council in July to designate both the county and the city as “sanctuaries for the unborn.” Anti-abortion activists have said such designations are one of the initial steps which could, over the course of years, alter the political climate of the state so New Mexico could become a state where abortion would no longer be legal. Related: How anti-abortion activists plan to turn New Mexico into an anti-abortion state

“In our viewpoint, there were more people there [at the Alamogordo City Council meeting] saying no over the people saying yes.

Guv pledges $10 million for clinic in Doña Ana County

On Wednesday, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she will designate$10 million in executive capital outlay funding next year to develop a new clinic in Doña Ana County. Lujan Grisham is directing the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration to designate the $10 million in the upcoming 2023 legislative session for the new clinic. The New Mexico Department of Health will also develop a plan to leverage state resources to expand access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, to underserved areas of the state to increase access and decrease wait times at abortion clinics. Lujan Grisham’s announcement was a part of her second executive order on reproductive healthcare since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June. The first order established that New Mexico would not cooperate with other state’s efforts to prosecute patients who travel to New Mexico and would protect providers who work in the state.

Abortion fund expanding services to Las Cruces 

The New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, an abortion fund provider, is expanding its services to Las Cruces. Since the fall of Roe v. Wade in June, more than one reproductive healthcare organization has said it will open a new clinic in Las Cruces to help with what many have called a health care crisis. So far, some bans on abortion have become law in 17 states, including most neighboring states. This has increased the number of patients traveling to New Mexico seeking care. While Joan Lamunyon Sanford, executive director of NMRCRC, told NM Political Report that since Texas banned abortion after six weeks in September of last year, the abortion fund started receiving between 75 to 80 callers a month.

U.S. House passes equality bill, but future uncertain

With bipartisan support, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to enshrine marriage equality into legislation on Tuesday by repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. The House voted 267 in favor with 157 Republicans voting no. All 220 Democrats voted in support of the repeal and 47 Republicans crossed the aisle to vote with them. H.R. 8404, the Respect for Marriage Act, included protections for interracial marriage as well. It would protect marriage equality if the court overturns Obergefell v. Hodges.

Guv issues executive order to further protect abortion access in New Mexico

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order on Monday to protect abortion providers from extradition if other states hostile to abortion rights attempt to pursue charges against the providers. Lujan Grisham signed the order during a press conference on Monday. She was flanked by representatives from abortion rights organizations and state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque. Lopez sponsored the bill that repealed New Mexico’s 1969 law that banned abortion with few exceptions in 2021. Lujan Grisham said the order would provide protections in a number of ways, including ensuring access for individuals who reside in the state and also ensure protections for individuals traveling from out of the state.

Abortion rights protestors rally in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. abortion rights rally marches to blockaded Pennsylvania Avenue

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of protestors supporting abortion rights marched for about four miles from the U.S. Supreme Court building to Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. on Sunday. Marching to chants such as “we are not incubators,” “we won’t go back” and “this is what democracy looks like,” the peaceful rally traveled past congressional buildings on Independence Avenue before ending at Pennsylvania Avenue and 15th Street at a blockaded portion of Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House. 

Police escorted the marchers and when the protestors reached the blockaded Pennsylvania Avenue, they turned the march into a sit-in in the middle of the street under the threat of rain. One anti-abortion demonstrator began to thread his way into the march shouting religious comments through a bull horn. A police car blocked him and some abortion rights protestors verbally confronted him a few times. Many protestors’ signs made connections between the court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and LGBTQ rights.

U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, creating public health emergency

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. Many during the press conference stressed that abortion is, and will remain, legal and safe in New Mexico.

New Mexico legislators meet with White House officials over abortion

With the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Healthcare a few weeks away, White House officials held a conference call with New Mexico legislators and others about the impending reproductive healthcare crisis. House Majority Leader Javier Martinez of Albuquerque, state Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena of Mesilla and state Sen. Shannon Pinto of Tohatchi, all Democrats, participated in the call with White House Gender Policy Council Director Jennifer Klein and  White House Intergovernmental Affairs Director Julie Chavez Rodriguez earlier this week. After the Texas six-week gestational ban went into effect last September, some clinics in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada experienced a 500 percent increase in patients, according to the White House statement. Martinez told NM Political Report that specific policy issues did not come up during the call but said that “we talked about making sure we will provide access to reproductive health services.”

“New Mexico stands with women and New Mexico respects reproductive justice and it will be a beacon of hope for women across the country. It is our responsibility as state legislators to make sure it happens,” he said.

U.S. Senators ask Biden to take executive action on abortion

A group of 25 senators, including Sen. Martin Heinrich, signed a letter to President Joe Biden this week urging him to take executive action to defend reproductive rights across the U.S.

The letter urges Biden to issue an executive order to direct the federal government to develop a national plan. The letter expresses urgency due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s likely plan to overturn Roe v. Wade this summer when it issues the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. The letter says that Biden has the “unique power to marshal the resources of the entire federal government to respond.”

The letter asks that Biden consider expanding access to medication abortion, provide vouchers for travel and childcare for individuals who must travel to other states for abortion care, establish a reproductive health ombudsman to gather and disseminate accurate reproductive information, guarantee Medicaid coverage for all family planning service clinics and clarify protections on sensitive information such as data gathered by some phone applications. The letter also encourages Biden to consider allowing abortion care on federal property, particularly in states where it will be restricted. Earlier this week Vice President Kamala Harris addressed a roundtable of faith leaders in Los Angeles and discussed, among other things, the need to protect reproductive rights.

U.S. Supreme Court Samuel Alito’s history of abortion differs from historians and Indigenous reproductive leaders 

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito provided a history of abortion rights in the U.S. in his draft opinion for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. His narrative, aimed at why the medical procedure should no longer have federal protection, focused on states making the medical practice illegal in the late 1800s and early 1900s. But both Indigenous people and historians have a more nuanced narrative. Alito noted when each state in the U.S. codified laws regulating abortion. New Mexico outlawed the procedure in 1919.