House committee stalls another round of abortion bills

A panel of state lawmakers spent five hours Sunday hearing and debating two bills that would have restricted abortion access in New Mexico before tabling them on party lines. At one point, state Rep. Bob Wooley, R-Roswell, bemoaned the predictability of the situation. “I was going to ask some questions, but it’s futile,” he said to the sponsors of a bill to ban abortions after 20 or more weeks of pregnancy. “We all know how this committee is going to vote. This bill is going to die on a 3-2 vote.”

Some members of the public echoed this.

Lawsuit alleges clinic donated fetal tissue without woman’s consent

A woman who underwent an abortion at Southwestern Women’s Options is suing the Albuquerque clinic for allegedly not informing her and receiving permission before providing fetal tissue from her terminated pregnancy for research at the University of New Mexico. The lawsuit, filed late last month in district court in Albuquerque, also accuses the clinic’s director, Curtis Boyd, and physician, Carmen Landau, of negligence for not informing Jessica Duran the fetal tissue would be donated for medical research. Landau, according to the lawsuit, treated Duran when she underwent an abortion in October 2012. “Women are supposed to be informed, supposed to be given information about the nature of the research, the benefits of the research, and given the opportunity to decide what happens,” Elisa Martinez, executive director of New Mexico Alliance for Life, which supports the lawsuit but is not part of the legal proceeding, said in an interview. Related: GOP congressional panel wants abortion investigation in NM

Martinez described the lawsuit as “a result” of public records requests Alliance for Life made with UNM and a congressional panel’s investigation into the Albuquerque health clinic.

UNM to fight part of abortion subpoena

NM Political Report has learned the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center is resisting part of a subpoena from a U.S. congressional panel conducting an investigation into local abortion providers. In a Thursday email to Health Sciences Center employees obtained by NM Political Report, Chancellor Paul Roth writes that UNM plans to fight a portion of the subpoena that asks for “the names of faculty, staff, residents and students who participated” in fetal tissue research conducted by the university. “I am concerned that supplying this information would potentially endanger the safety of faculty, staff and students on our campus,” Roth wrote. “We are working to clarify and revise this request for personally identifiable information and its relevance to the stated charge of the Select Panel.”

Roth added that he is “steadfast” in his “commitment to ensuring the safety of everyone on our campus, as well as cultivating an environment that fosters freedom of thought and scientific inquiry.”

Roth’s email comes after another Albuquerque women’s health clinic, Southwest Women’s Options, similarly promised to resist part of another subpoena by the Congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives asking for five years of employee information. UNM and Southwest Women’s Options both offer abortion procedures to women.

In budget session, some lawmakers will push against abortion

Rhetoric on abortion heated up in 2015 after anti-abortion advocates leaked videos of Planned Parenthood officials and Robert Dear violently attacked a clinic in Colorado Springs. But whether the emotional debate comes to bills at the legislative session later this month and next isn’t yet known. Measures impacting abortion rights face odds this year because the upcoming session is focused on the state budget. Gov. Susana Martinez has the sole authority to allow any legislation not related to the state budget to be heard this year. So far, only state Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, has confirmed publicly that she asked Martinez to allow the Legislature to hear a bill that would ban abortion procedures after 20 weeks of pregnancy.