WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of protestors supporting abortion rights marched for about four miles from the U.S. Supreme Court building to Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. on Sunday. Marching to chants such as “we are not incubators,” “we won’t go back” and “this is what democracy looks like,” the peaceful rally traveled past congressional buildings on Independence Avenue before ending at Pennsylvania Avenue and 15th Street at a blockaded portion of Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House.
Police escorted the marchers and when the protestors reached the blockaded Pennsylvania Avenue, they turned the march into a sit-in in the middle of the street under the threat of rain. One anti-abortion demonstrator began to thread his way into the march shouting religious comments through a bull horn. A police car blocked him and some abortion rights protestors verbally confronted him a few times. Many protestors’ signs made connections between the court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and LGBTQ rights.
With the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Healthcare a few weeks away, White House officials held a conference call with New Mexico legislators and others about the impending reproductive healthcare crisis. House Majority Leader Javier Martinez of Albuquerque, state Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena of Mesilla and state Sen. Shannon Pinto of Tohatchi, all Democrats, participated in the call with White House Gender Policy Council Director Jennifer Klein and White House Intergovernmental Affairs Director Julie Chavez Rodriguez earlier this week. After the Texas six-week gestational ban went into effect last September, some clinics in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada experienced a 500 percent increase in patients, according to the White House statement. Martinez told NM Political Report that specific policy issues did not come up during the call but said that “we talked about making sure we will provide access to reproductive health services.”
“New Mexico stands with women and New Mexico respects reproductive justice and it will be a beacon of hope for women across the country. It is our responsibility as state legislators to make sure it happens,” he said.
Vice President Kamala Harris announced on Thursday the expansion of postpartum Medicaid coverage for New Mexico and a few other states. The federal government made changes to Medicaid rules last year, which allowed states to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage from two months to 12. New Mexico began working last year to make the rule change and implemented the expansion by April 1. The expansion means that about 5,000 women in New Mexico will be able to access 12 months of postpartum care through Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program. Harris said during her remarks that the federal government was formally approving the expansion for New Mexico as well as for the District of Columbia, Maine and Minnesota.
U.S. Senate Republicans voted 52 to 48 to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away Sept. 18. President Donald Trump held a celebration at the White House Monday evening after the Senate vote and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas swore her in at the White House to the lifetime position. Barrett’s confirmation received no support from Democrats who voiced their anger over her confirmation hearing over the weekend. All Democratic Senators voted against her, including both of those from New Mexico.
New U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regulations on international students is creating uncertainty on New Mexico university campuses. ICE issued a news release Monday that restricts students who are on F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant visas. Students on F-1 visas pursue academic coursework while students on M-1 visas take vocational training. ICE’s new regulation prohibits students on F-1 and M-1 visas from remaining in the U.S. legally if they take online course work only. During the start of the pandemic, when many colleges, including New Mexico State University, shifted to online only classes, ICE made an exception for international students because it was the middle of the semester, said Seth Miner, director of admissions, orientation and international student and scholar services for NMSU.
Long-time Albuquerque-based activist Pamelya Herndon thinks women will achieve pay equity by 2030. According to a national group called Status of Women, if current trends continue, women in New Mexico won’t see equal pay until 2054. Women of color face even greater pay inequities due to systemic racism. Herndon acknowledges the disparity, but despite those obstacles, she remains optimistic that all women will make the same as white men by 2030 regardless of color. “I absolutely do (believe we’ll get there).
On Thursday, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said racism is a “public health emergency” and that she would make examining government policies with institutionalized racism in mind “the center of my administration.”
She announced the formation of the Council for Racial Justice, which will be comprised of several African American community leaders, and she will appoint a racial justice czar. The council will include state Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, a Democrat from Albuquerque, NM Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs Director Alexandria Taylor and the Reverend Donna Maria Davis of the Grant Chapel AME Church, along with others. Lujan Grisham said during the live press conference that the nation has to “own what slavery did.”
“Until we own that sin…that disgrace, we don’t have the opportunity to move forward,” Lujan Grishan said. The press conference came after recent events that have gripped the nation. Video showed a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on an African American man, George Floyd, for nearly nine minutes, killing him.
The White House announced Thursday it is halting the practice of what it calls “birth tourism” but New Mexico reproductive justice advocates call the new rule discriminatory and say it puts migrants at risk. As of Friday the State Department stopped issuing temporary visitor visas to nonresidents who enter in order to give birth on American soil. The practice enables the baby to be a U.S. citizen. Although it’s not known how many people engage in birth tourism, some conservatives consider it a “loophole” in immigration policy. But reproductive justice advocates call foul and say it’s another tool to demonize immigrants in general, and women immigrants and pregnant immigrants in particular.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall criticized President Donald Trump Tuesday after the Washington Post revealed that the president disclosed classified information to Russian officials during a meeting in the Oval Office last week. On the Senate floor, Udall said the latest news calls for a “swift” and independent investigation. “The White House and President Trump face another crisis,” Udall said. Udall went on to criticize Trump’s firing of former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and FBI Director James Comey. “The only rational explanation is that he has something to hide,” Udall said.
The White House celebrated the increase of income growth and health insurance coverage along with a decrease of poverty in New Mexico between 2014 and 2015. “New Mexico has added jobs consistently and brought its unemployment rate down, though it’s still a little higher than the national average,” White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman Jason Furman said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. While New Mexico remains one of the poorest states in the nation, the new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show that things are trending upwards in these key indicators. Still, the growth in these areas was smaller than in other states. The median household income grew by 5.2 percent between 2014 and 2015 in the United States as a whole from $53,718 to $56,516 according to the Census Bureau numbers.