Hed: Reproductive justice advocates say abortion ban repeal ‘next year’
Many reproductive justice advocates said their biggest disappointment of the 2020 legislative session is that the 1969 New Mexico law banning abortion is still on the books. But some in the Respect NM Women Coalition, a group of reproductive justice advocates and organizations, say ‘next year.’
“We’re looking forward to repealing the state’s archaic 1969 abortion ban in 2021,” said Joan Lamunyon Sanford, executive director of NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. The nonprofit she leads is part of the coalition. While the law is still on the books, it is not currently enforceable because of the landmark Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision. The law is worrisome for many because the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a Louisiana law, June Medical Services v. Russo (formerly June Medical Services v. Gee) requiring abortion clinics in that state to be affiliated with a hospital and have admitting privileges.
The Senate unanimously passed a bill that will enable pharmacists to be paid for time spent prescribing emergency contraception and hormonal contraception. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk, where it is expected to be signed. Backers say HB 42 will particularly help rural pharmacists and rural patients. Senator Liz Stefanics, D-Cerrillos, who carried the bill in the Senate, said it helps pharmacists because they are paid for filling prescriptions, but they are not paid for the time they spend prescribing medications. Because there are doctor shortages in rural areas in New Mexico, this could help rural patients, say backers of the bill.
The state House of Representatives approved a bill to preserve contraception coverage put in place as part of the federal Affordable Care Act and expand some access on a mostly party-line vote Monday evening. Three Republicans—state Reps. Sarah Maestas Barnes and Nate Gentry of Albuquerque and Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences—joined ranks with Democrats to approve the bill. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Deborah Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, would expand access to contraceptives by requiring health insurance plans to allow women to obtain up to 12 months of their birth control prescription at one time. The bill would expand the types of contraceptives available over the counter and include condoms and vasectomies in health insurance plans.
One of several Republican proposals to restrict abortion access in New Mexico stalled Tuesday night as a Democrat-controlled panel tabled legislation centered on a requirement that abortion physicians obtain hospital admitting privileges. Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, told the Senate Public Affairs Committee that his SB 437 was intended to ensure that women undergoing abortion procedures have “the safest accommodations for doing so.”
The bill would prohibit abortion doctors from administering a procedure unless they’ve been granted special permissions to admit patients to a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion is being performed. Brandt said the bill’s provisions would guarantee “that the doctor gets help that’s needed during emergencies.”
Brandt said his measure “gives the woman information she needs in her medical records if there’s a complication” following an abortion procedure. He added that SB 437 stemmed directly from the approval of a similar bill in Texas and dealt with concerns cited by proponents of another 2012 measure passed in Mississippi. Lalita Russ, a staffer at Planned Parenthood, testified that the non-profit organization provides a range of services, including birth control and screenings for sexually transmitted infections and certain cancers.