Two hours of emotional testimony from New Mexicans on both sides of the abortion debate did not seem to change anyone’s mind at the Legislature on Saturday, as a House committee voted along party lines to block a bill that would have required abortion providers to notify parents before their child undergoes the procedure. The Republican sponsors behind House Bill 56 said the measure was a simple step to ensure minors make informed decisions with their parents before getting an abortion. But critics countered that the measure would hamper the rights of young women in making an intensely personal decision and delay care for patients. The House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee tabled the bill on a 3-2 vote, with Democrats on the prevailing side. The bill would have required abortion providers to contact a minor patient’s parent or guardian by a certified letter delivered via courier at least 48 hours before their child undergoes the procedure.
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.”
A Republican Senator made a series of moves this afternoon to transfer two controversial House bills related to abortion out of their assigned committees. All of his efforts failed. Senator William Sharer, R-Farmington, first requested that HB 391, a bill sponsored by House Majority Whip Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas, requiring parental notification of minors seeking abortions, be moved to a Committee of the Whole in the Senate. The move incited spirited party divisions as Republican lawmakers rallied behind the motion, saying that the parental notification bill has major public importance and faces the danger of getting lost in committees as the 60-day session narrows in on its final days. Democrats, on the other hand, disparaged the move as contrary to the Senate’s conventional processes.
Two bills seeking limits on abortion are poised for debate in New Mexico’s House of Representatives. A look back at weeks of charged discussions on the issue indicates that under a superficial veneer of two opposing “sides” lies a spectrum of experiences and beliefs, all of which could all play into the ultimate fate of the proposals. Anti-abortion legislation has been proposed session after session in Santa Fe since the passage of Roe v. Wade, but this year, the momentum feels markedly different. After a new Republican majority took the helm in the House for the first time since the 1950s, anti-abortion activists vowed to hold lawmakers’ feet to the fire. Conservative legislators have expressed confidence they can squeeze votes they need from the Democratic-controlled Senate to send abortion restrictions to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk for her signature.
Two pieces of legislation that would place restrictions on abortions passed a House committee after hours of debate on Friday. The measures will now head to the House floor. The House Judiciary Committee passed a ban on abortions for pregnancies at 20 weeks or more as well as a bill mandating notification of the parents of minors who seek an abortion. The controversial legislation passed on party-line votes, with Republicans voting to advance the measures and Democrats voting against them. The bill to ban late-term abortions was sponsored by Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo.