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.
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.
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 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.
More than 200 individuals protested the potential “roll back” of abortion rights on Saturday in Las Cruces. The U.S. Supreme Court’s draft decision, leaked in early May, on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization indicated the court will likely overturn the 1973 decision that expanded reproductive rights in the U.S. nearly 50 years ago. Within 24 hours about 100 people gathered outside of the Las Cruces City Hall to protest. The protest this past weekend brought out more people. Thousands protested in cities all across the U.S., including Albuquerque.
Amid honking horns at the corner of Main Street and Picacho Street, protesters held signs.
Responding to the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft document that, once leaked in early May, revealed the court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, a new student group at New Mexico State University is taking shape. The U.S. Supreme Court heard Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last December. The state of Mississippi passed a 15-week gestational ban in 2018 and has asked the high court to consider overturning Roe v. Wade in its decision. The draft decision, leaked to Politico and released in early May, has led to protests and Democrats in the U.S. Senate making a second attempt this year to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law. Dan Vargo, a graduate student at NMSU, initiated a call to fellow graduate students shortly after Politico released the court’s draft document.
If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, as is now expected this summer, the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community will be thrown into jeopardy, advocates believe. In the leaked draft opinion that reveals the Supreme Court will likely overturn Roe v. Wade this summer, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito attacked the court’s arguments written into the Roe v. Wade decision affirming the right to abortion. He also took aim at Casey v. Planned Parenthood, the 1992 decision that reaffirmed Roe. Roe v. Wade rests on the argument that individuals have a right to privacy and that the right can be found in the 14th Amendment and in other amendments. Subsequent rulings that effect LGBTQIA+ rights, such as Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision granting the right to same sex marriage, rests on a similar argument.
A vote in the U.S. Senate to end the filibuster on the Women’s Health Protection Act failed on Wednesday. The Senate took up the issue originally in February when Senate Republicans filibustered the bill. To end the filibuster and allow the Senate to vote on the legislation, Senate Democrats needed 60 votes in support. With one Democrat siding with Republicans and a 50-50 party split in the chamber, Democrats lacked enough votes to try to hear the bill on the floor. The Women’s Health Protection Act would have codified Roe v. Wade in advance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s final decision on the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban expected this summer.
If the Supreme Court’s leaked draft decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization becomes reality in late June or early July, New Mexico will remain what some have called “a beacon” of legal abortion care. The state legislature passed and the governor signed last year the Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act, which repealed old language from the criminal code banning abortion in 1969. While the antiquated language had not been enforceable since 1973, many policy makers worked to pass the repeal of the old ban before a conservative-leaning state challenged Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court level. State Rep. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces, who was the lead sponsor on a previous version of the Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act, told NM Political Report that because of that “foresight,” to “fight forward” the state now doesn’t have to “fight backwards” on abortion rights. She said that, at this time, she is not preparing legislation for further protections on abortion in the state for the next session, beginning in 2023, because of the successful repeal of the ban in 2021.
The leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the case that appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade woke up many on Tuesday to a “shocking” reality which may be imminent. Politico released on Monday a leaked draft document, dated February from the Supreme Court. The document is a majority opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case the court heard in early December. Because the document is still a draft, there is still opportunity for the court to rule differently in late June or early July, though it appears unlikely with the current makeup of the court. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito authored the draft, which overturns Roe v. Wade and rules in favor of the state of Mississippi in the Dobbs case.