A new full-spectrum reproductive health clinic in Las Cruces is still, at least, a few years from becoming a reality, said Bold Futures Executive Director Charlene Bencomo. Within a few months of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade through its Dobbs decision in late June, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a second reproductive executive order, pledging $10 million toward a reproductive health care clinic in Doña Ana County. The pledge will be in the capital outlay bill in the 2023 Legislative session, Lujan Grisham’s Press Secretary Nora Meyers Sackett, told NM Political Report.
Bencomo said the clinic will be in Las Cruces and that it is still in the “fundraising stage.” She said that, in part, because the goal is for the clinic to be innovative in challenging health care norms, it’s hard to say at this point how long it will be before the clinic will be fully operational. She said the partners, of which Bold Futures is one, who are behind the clinic want to “leave behind what’s not working in the healthcare system and build something new.”
The project has formed an advisory board, which includes Bencomo, Adriann Barboa, representing Strong Families New Mexico, Dr. Eve Espey, representing the University of New Mexico Health and Sciences Center, Adrienne Mansanares, executive director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Gina Deblassie, health policy advisor for Lujan Grisham. The board is called the Reproductive Healthcare Success Project. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains told NM Political Report in an email that it is “working closely with the local partners in Las Cruces to envision and establish this health center, and we plan to be involved in a meaningful way now and in the future.”
The University of New Mexico said to NM Political Report in an email that UNM Health and Health Sciences is one of the entities collaborating on the clinic.
The New Mexico Legislature will debate its first two pieces of reproductive health care bills since the fall of Roe v. Wade last summer. One is designed to protect privacy and the other is intended to prevent municipalities and counties from placing local prohibitions on abortion care. The one that could bring the most controversy is the Reproductive Health Care Freedom Act, sponsored by state House Rep. Linda Serrato and state Sen. Linda Lopez, both Democrats from Albuquerque. Serrato told NM Political Report that this bill was not crafted in response to the ordinances some New Mexico municipalities have considered or passed in some rural parts of the state. She said individuals within the reproductive health community were able to anticipate those actions ahead of time and were already talking about the bill before Clovis held a special city council meeting in mid-October to consider an ordinance that would have given the city council authority to deny an abortion clinic a license to practice within the city limits.
Note: Every year, we count down the top ten stories of the year, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. See our entire countdown of 2022 top stories, to date, here
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June, marking a significant shift in decades of judicial decision-making as well as creating what many called a public health emergency. The court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturned nearly 50 years of precedent. The court said in its 6-3 opinion that it thought the decision should go back to the states to decide. The outcome of the decision has led to 44 states to ban or restrict abortion care in 2022, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights organization.
Amid much fanfare, President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law at the White House on Tuesday. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill last week by 258 to 169. The bill passed the U.S. Senate the week prior by 61 to 36 votes. The bill repeals the 1995 Defense of Marriage Act, which stated that marriage is solely between a man and a woman and denied federal benefits to same sex couples. Related: Respect for Marriage Act passes Congress: What it means for New Mexicans
The new law protects same-sex and interracial marriages by recognizing those marriages federally.
The U.S. House passed the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that protects same sex and interracial marriage, on Thursday. The bill previously passed the U.S. Senate. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it. He has expressed his support, saying “love is love,” in a previous statement. The U.S. Senate passed the bill with bipartisan support, with 61 to 36 votes last week when 12 Republicans joined Democrats in voting for its passage.
With a vote of 61 to 36, the U.S. Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act five months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Since the court overturned the 1973 landmark decision, LGBTQ advocates have expressed concern that the court would use similar logic to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges. The court’s majority made the argument when overturning Roe in its Dobbs decision that the 14th amendment does not explicitly include a right to bodily autonomy. But since 1965, the court has ruled in various decisions that the amendment can be interpreted that it does. Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion to the Dobbs decision, said the court should revisit prior court opinions that rest on the 14th amendment, including Obergefell v. Hodges.
Vice President Kamala Harris said during an event in New Mexico on Tuesday that the fight around reproductive rights in the United States will affect women all over the world. Harris stopped in Albuquerque to talk with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and University of New Mexico Professor and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Family Planning Fellowship Director Dr. Eve Espey about protecting reproductive rights. The moderated discussion took place in front of a packed house of about 250 people at the University of New Mexico’s Keller Hall in the Center for the Arts and Arts Museum. Harris said people around the world watch what is happening politically in the U.S. She said former German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaned over during a conversation about Russia and China and asked Harris about what is happening with voting rights in the U.S.
“My fear on this issue is that dictators around the world will say to their people who are fighting for rights, ‘you want to hold out America as the example?’ Look at what they just did; be quiet,’” she said. “I highlight the significance of this moment and the impact, which not only directly impacts the people of our nation but very likely impacts people around the world.”
Harris highlighted her mother’s career, saying that her mother was one of the very few women of color researching breast cancer in her era.
With 23 days before the November election, New Mexico Democrats held a rally with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America national leaders in Las Cruces on Saturday to discuss the importance of abortion rights. Close to 300 people attended the rally at Albert Johnson Park, next to Las Cruces City Hall. Democrats campaigning for office included former Las Cruces City Councilor Gabriel “Gabe” Vasquez, who is challenging incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell for the state’s 2nd Congressional District seat, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who is vying for a second term and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is also campaigning for a second term in office. Toulouse Oliver faces Audrey Mendonca-Trujillo, a Republican, and Mayna Myers, a Libertarian. Lujan Grisham is competing with Republican Mark Ronchetti and Libertarian Karen Bedonie.
The fall of Roe v. Wade in June led three women to form a reproductive rights group in Otero County. Natalie Wilkins, Shari Adkisson and Marylouise Kuti forged New Voices Otero in response to the leak of the U.S. Supreme Court draft document of its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Healthcare decision in May as an offshoot of their initial protest activity. Despite the potential for backlash, they told NM Political Report they believe being vocal is important on issues such as reproductive rights but, also, already looking ahead, on social justice issues as they move forward. New Voices Otero spoke out against the resolutions passed by both the Otero County Commission and Alamogordo City Council in July to designate both the county and the city as “sanctuaries for the unborn.” Anti-abortion activists have said such designations are one of the initial steps which could, over the course of years, alter the political climate of the state so New Mexico could become a state where abortion would no longer be legal. Related: How anti-abortion activists plan to turn New Mexico into an anti-abortion state
“In our viewpoint, there were more people there [at the Alamogordo City Council meeting] saying no over the people saying yes.
On Wednesday, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she will designate$10 million in executive capital outlay funding next year to develop a new clinic in Doña Ana County. Lujan Grisham is directing the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration to designate the $10 million in the upcoming 2023 legislative session for the new clinic. The New Mexico Department of Health will also develop a plan to leverage state resources to expand access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, to underserved areas of the state to increase access and decrease wait times at abortion clinics. Lujan Grisham’s announcement was a part of her second executive order on reproductive healthcare since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June. The first order established that New Mexico would not cooperate with other state’s efforts to prosecute patients who travel to New Mexico and would protect providers who work in the state.