Bill to protect women’s right to abortion passes U.S. House of Representatives

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health Protection Act on Friday by 218 to 211 largely along party lines. One Texas Democrat voted against it while all Republicans voted against the bill. U.S. Representatives Melanie Stansbury of New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, and Teresa Leger Fernández New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District, both Democrats, voted for the bill. The bill would protect women’s right to an abortion in every state and end gestational bans and other restrictions to reproductive access. The bill is unlikely to pass the U.S. Senate.

New Mexico Democrats in Congress sign onto amicus brief supporting Roe v. Wade

The New Mexico Democratic Congressional delegation signed onto an amicus brief urging  the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade in the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. That case will be heard December 1. But the court has traditionally made its ruling on abortion cases at the end of the term in late June or early July. The state of Mississippi, in its case against the sole clinic that provides abortions in that state, has asked the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade. Mississippi lawmakers passed an unconstitutional law in 2018 making abortion at 15 weeks gestation illegal in that state.

Social justice advocate Pamelya Herndon appointed new HD 28 representative

The Bernalillo County Commission appointed social justice advocate and lawyer Pamelya Herndon to the state House to replace U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury, on Tuesday. The Bernalillo County Commissioners voted 4 to 0 in favor of Herndon with one, Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, absent. Herndon vied for the job against seven other candidates but one, William Boughan-Trammell, ended his campaign for the seat before the commission meeting began. Herndon, who is a lawyer trained in tax law and has experience in both government and the nonprofit sector, touted her professional background and years of service for various social justice causes. She said she has worked for gender pay equity, helped individuals enroll in the New Mexico Health Exchange and to take the U.S. Census.

Former legislator seeks appointment to vacant state House seat

Idalia Lechuga-Tena announced on Friday she is seeking appointment to House District 28 amidst a growing list of women interested in the seat vacated by U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury. Bernalillo County Commissioners meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday in a special meeting to decide who will replace Stansbury. Bernalillo County Commissioners appointed Lechuga-Tena in 2015 to represent House District 21. At that time, she replaced state Sen. Mimi Stewart. But Lechuga-Tena moved into HD 21 just days before her appointment in 2015, though she owned another home in another district.

Army veteran seeks House seat

An Army veteran has announced she is seeking the appointment to House District 28. Michelle Peacock, who served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Army Nurse Corps Officer, has joined the list of two other women who are seeking to replace U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury for her former seat. Peacock is now a nurse practitioner supervisor for ambulatory care in the state of New Mexico. She said that health care will be a priority for her if the Bernalillo County Commissioners choose her to replace Stansbury. The Bernalillo County Commission meets at 4 p.m. next Tuesday in a special meeting to decide who will replace Stansbury in the state Legislature.

Activist announces she is seeking appointment to HD 28

Long time community activist Pamelya Herndon announced on Monday that she is seeking appointment to state House District 28 to replace U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury. Herndon moved to the district in 1982, where she and her husband raised their three children. She said she thinks she is the best person for the job, in part, because of her three decades of living in the district and because of her experience of working in various government positions. She was a senior trial attorney for the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service and she was the Deputy Cabinet Secretary for the General Services Department. She has also been a deputy superintendent general counsel for the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department.

Stansbury to resign from state House, be sworn into U.S. House

New Mexico state Representative Melanie Stansbury announced her resignation from the state House. The resignation will be effective Monday, the same day Stansbury will be sworn into the U.S. House after a landslide special election victory earlier this month. “Serving in the New Mexico House of Representatives has been one of the greatest joys and honors of my life,” the Albuquerque Democrat wrote, while thanking the governor, colleagues and legislative staff. Stansbury won an election with four names on the ballot, with 60 percent of the vote, well ahead of the next-closest candidate, Republican Mark Moores, who received 36 percent of the vote, while Independent Aubrey Dunn and Libertarian Christopher Manning received a combined 4 percent. Two write-in candidates also participated.

How a federal abortion bill could impact New Mexico

This week members of Congress introduced legislation into both chambers that would codify Roe v. Wade into law if it passes. HR 3755, more commonly known as the Women’s Health Protection Act, would protect a person’s ability to terminate a pregnancy and would protect a provider’s ability to provide abortion services. Reproductive healthcare advocates believe the bill, which has been introduced by members of Congress, has greater urgency this year because of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Mississippi case the U.S. Supreme Court plans to hear next year. Related: The future of reproductive healthcare in NM if Roe v. Wade is overturned

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenges Mississippi’s unconstitutional 15-week abortion gestational ban, will be the first test of Roe v. Wade with the new 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court bench. Many in the reproductive healthcare community believe Roe v. Wade could be overturned or become a law in name only as a result. The Supreme Court is expected to decide on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in 2022.

Stansbury wins special election

New Mexico state Rep. Melanie Stansbury will soon officially become a U.S. Representative. 

Stansbury won easily on Tuesday over three other opponents on the ballot in a special election: Republican Mark Moores, Libertarian Chris Manning and independent candidate Aubrey Dunn. 

The special election was held in order to replace former congresswoman Deb Halaand after she was appointed and confirmed to the position of U..S. Secretary of the Interior earlier this year. 

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, as of 11:46 p.m. Tuesday night, Stansbury’s votes accounted for 60 percent of all votes cast, while Moores had slightly 36 percent, Manning had one percent and Dunn had three percent. 

Even though there were four candidates in the running, much of the unusually timed and expedited election cycle was largely focused on Moores and Stansbury. Both Stansbury and Moores are state legislators, Moores in the state Senate and Stansbury in the House, each serving moderate districts in Albuquerque. Two other candidates qualified as write-in candidates. At an event in Old Town Albuquerque, where Stansbury supporters gathered to watch the results, U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández rallied the crowd with chants of “¡Que viva Melanie Stansbury!”

In her victory speech, Stansbury spoke about tearing up when she saw Halaand sworn in as Secretary of Interior, signalling what Stansbury said is a movement towards progressive change.

Transgender woman to seek legislative seat

On Thursday, one of the first openly transgender people to seek a New Mexico legislative seat, Bunnie Benton Cruse, announced her intent to replace Rep. Melanie Stansbury for the state House. Stansbury is the Democratic nominee in the June 1 special election for the state’s 1st Congressional District, a seat Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland vacated when she left the U.S. House of Representatives to take the federal position. Benton Cruse will apply to the Bernalillo County Commission, which will decide who to appoint to HD 28 if Stansbury wins June 1 and leaves the seat. Benton Cruse said she went public with her intention to apply for the HD 28 seat before the June 1 special election because she believes Stansbury will win. Marshall Martinez, executive director of Equality New Mexico, called Benton Cruse’s decision to seek Stansbury’s seat “historic.”

“It really is super historic,” Martinez said.