Governor signs bill repealing abortion ban into law: ‘a woman has the right to make decisions about her own body’

Called historic, New Mexico decriminalized abortion on Friday when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act into law, after years of efforts by abortion rights supporters. SB 10 repeals the 1969 statute that criminalized abortion by banning it with very few exceptions. 

Lujan Grisham said “a woman has the right to make decisions about her own body.”

“Anyone who seeks to violate bodily integrity, or to criminalize womanhood, is in the business of dehumanization,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “New Mexico is not in that business – not any more. Our state statutes now reflect this inviolable recognition of humanity and dignity. I am incredibly grateful to the tireless advocates and legislators who fought through relentless misinformation and fear-mongering to make this day a reality.

Bill to establish Health Care Affordability Fund expected during legislative session

A bill designed to lower insurance premiums for state residents on the New Mexico health care exchange is expected to be filed for the 2021 Legislature. The bill is a priority for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and is still being drafted, so not all the details have been worked out. But Nicolas Cordova, an attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, said one of the benefits of the Health Care Affordability Fund is that it would encourage more individuals to enroll and that, in turn, could lead to insurance premiums dropping for residents who are on the exchange. The bill, if it becomes law, would apply a surtax on insurance companies of 2.75 percent. That would generate $110 million in net revenue for the state, Cordova said.

Legislators will again try to repeal antiquated abortion ban

With a new set of members in the state Senate, a bill to repeal the New Mexico 1969 abortion ban is expected to be filed in the upcoming New Mexico Legislature. Six Democrats who support abortion rights beat Republicans in November, in some cases after defeating anti-abortion Democrats in June’s primary, for state Senate seats, tipping the balance of power further to the left in the upper chamber. The state Senate defeated the 2019 effort to repeal the antiquated state law that bans abortion with few exceptions. Related: State Senate shifts left with progressive wins

Of the eight Democrats who sided with Republicans on the repeal vote two years ago, only two remain: state Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, and state Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas. Incoming state Senators Carrie Hamblen, Siah Correa Hemphill and Leo Jaramillo, all progressive Democrats who ran on reproductive health, defeated their incumbent Democrat opponents in the primary and then won again in November against their Republican challengers.

Advocacy group turns in 10,000 signatures for sick leave initiative

A coalition advocating for paid sick leave in Albuquerque announced Monday that they reached the halfway point of their self-imposed petition goal. Healthy Workforce ABQ, a group comprised of a number of left-leaning organizations, delivered more than 10,000 petition signatures to get a initiative asking voters to approve mandated paid sick leave in the workplace on Albuquerque ballots in November. Adriann Barboa, a field director for Strong Families New Mexico, is helping with the sick leave campaign and told NM Political Report the goal is to get twice as many signatures as required by the city in case some are disqualified. “We want to get more than double so that we have for sure the solid number we need and that’s not a question,” Barboa said. Ballot initiatives require a minimum of a little more than 14,000 valid signatures, but the city often deems signatures unqualified if the signer is not registered to vote in the area or their addresses are written down incorrectly.

Rhetoric, activism heat up in anticipation of abortion measures

For Sara and Josue Maldonado, the question of whether abortion access should be curtailed in New Mexico boils down to starkly defined principles: Human life begins at conception and should be protected without exceptions. “When I had my baby in September, I’d hold her in my arms and think, ‘She’s a person,’” said Sara, who adds she used to call herself pro-choice. “In my opinion, it’s not just a woman’s body. It’s also the body of the living being who’s inside her.”

Josue chimed in, saying that he believes public funding for Planned Parenthood should be cut and that contraception is harmful to women’s health. (Medical research indicates that hormonal birth control health risks are complex; it may increase risk of breast cancer for some women while also lowering risk for other cancers and health conditions.)

The Maldonados were among an estimated 200 people assembled yesterday in the Roundhouse rotunda as Allen Sanchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, presided over a lineup of speakers.