New Mexico Abortion Battles Continues Around Access

Alamogordo Conservative Daily
Photo byCaitlin Knowles Myers

New Mexico Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham this month signed into law a bill that prohibits local municipalities and other public bodies from interfering with a person’s ability to access reproductive or gender-affirming health care services.

HB7, the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Freedom Act, also prohibits any public body from imposing laws, ordinances, policies or regulations that prevent patients from receiving reproductive or gender-affirming care.

New Mexicans in every corner of our state deserve protections for their bodily autonomy and right to health care,” Lujan Grisham said in a news release. “I’m grateful for the hard work of the Legislature and community partners in getting this critical legislation across the finish line.”

However a new twist to that debate came about yesterday as a new lawsuit has been filed in an attempt to stop this legislation from being enacted and enforced.

Specifically, a lawsuit was filed by the city of Eunice against Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Raúl Torrez which claims a federal law enacted in the 1870s trumps a new state law, set to take effect in June, that aims to prohibit jurisdictions from restricting access to reproductive health care, including abortion.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in state district court in Lea County, but local officials and anti-abortion advocates held a news conference in Washington, D.C. to announce its filing.

Sen. David Gallegos, R-Eunice, who attended the news conference, said the event was held in Washington, D.C. in large part because supporters of the suit anticipate it could eventually be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court — perhaps in conjunction with similar court cases from around the nation.

“We’re hoping this will help fuel the fire to get this resolved,” Gallegos told the Albuquerque Journal. 

While New Mexico does not currently have any statewide restrictions on abortion, the new bills have not stopped local-level attempts to limit access to abortion.

More than 300 miles away from Eunice, the city of Edgewood is considering passing its own ordinance expressing support for the federal Comstock Act.

The Comstock Act, passed in 1873, prohibits sending “obscene material” through the mail — specifically anything that is “designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion.”

In December, the Department of Justice issued an opinion for the U.S. Postal service stating that the law does not prohibit sending medication intended to induce an abortion through the mail as long as the sender is not intending that it will be used unlawfully.

In late March, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued an opinion temporarily blocking the enforcement of the ordinances while it considers the issue. The court also asked the parties to file responses specifically addressing the implications of House Bill 7. Those are due Thursday of this week. 

The AG’s office spokeswoman Lauren Rodriguez said the Supreme Court order only applies to the four jurisdictions that were named in the petition.

So while it does not apply to Eunice, Rodriguez said in a statement that the AG “is prepared to take formal legal action to prevent any jurisdiction from adopting similar ordinances once the outstanding legal questions have been resolved by the New Mexico Supreme Court.”

How is Alamogordo and Otero County impacted? Under the guise of John Block and his partner Karl Melton last year they championed the city of Alamogordo and the County to pass meaningless resolutions against abortions. Given they were just mere resolutions, they had no power of law, attached to them, therefore Otero County is not at risk of lawsuits and racking up more legal fees needlessly in relation to this issue, at present.

Otero County does not host any abortion clinics the nearest clinics to Alamogordo are in Las Cruces at 61.5 miles or Santa Teresa at 82.3 miles away. A map above the story shows the US with a grid to how many miles to abortion access.

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