Opinion: The Increased Demand for Abortion Services in New Mexico Could Lead to a Public Health Emergency

Daniella Cressman

Roe v. Wade was overturned on Friday, June 24, 2022 leaving many devastated by its impacts on women's rights.

This decision has outlawed abortion in many states neighboring New Mexico, leading to an increase in individuals from Texas and other red states seeking abortions in the Land of Enchantment.

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"About 1,700 patients from Texas have accessed abortion services at Planned Parenthood clinics in New Mexico since the restrictions were enacted, Herring said. Previously, the clinics saw about 400 Texas patients each year." —Pilar Martinez, Matthew Narvaiz, and Oliver Uyttebrouck

There has been so much of an increase in demand for healthcare providers that it has been overwhelming.

"At the University of New Mexico Center for Reproductive Health, wait times increased from 24 hours to two to three weeks after the enactment of the Texas legislation in September...This resulted in a 150% increase in patients seeking abortion care services over the previous year, Hofler told the Journal." —Dr. Lisa Hofler (Clinical vice chair of the Department of Obstetric and Gynecology and chief of the division of Complex Family Planning and the University of New Mexico)

New Mexico has been a haven for those seeking abortion care, due to the unrestrictive nature of our laws.

"New Mexico has long been a place where patients seeking abortion services have traveled due to the state’s unrestrictive laws relating to the procedure. Currently, there are no gestational limits for abortion access in the state. Though not protected by New Mexico’s Constitution, abortion remains legal in the state. In 2021 the Legislature repealed a 1969 abortion ban, which made it a crime to end a pregnancy except in narrow circumstances. It had been unenforceable because of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade." —Pilar Martinez, Matthew Narvaiz, and Oliver Uyttebrouck

Organizations that help out-of-state individuals undergo abortions, such as the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, have also reported an increased demand for their services.

“Since the enforcement of Senate Bill 8 in Texas, we’ve seen at least triple the number of people who have reached out to us for assistance...We can only anticipate that that’s going to really increase.” —Lamunyon Sanford (executive director of the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Care)

Right now, the coalition is facing two immense challenges.

“It’s going to be an important challenge to make sure that people will know that abortion in New Mexico has been, and will remain, safe and legal...the other challenge then will be making sure they can get here safely.” —Lamunyon Sanford

New Mexico is a state where people can obtain safe and legal abortions, and it will remain that way.

Unfortunately, this increased influx of individuals seeking care is likely to lead to a public health emergency, according to Kayla Herring: the director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood.

“New Mexico is in a health care crisis in general and that extends to reproductive health care...So as numbers of patients who are coming from out of state (increase), we see prolonged wait times and patients have difficulty accessing other forms of reproductive health care....patients seeking a test for sexually transmitted infections, birth control prescriptions, pregnancy screenings and other routine medical procedures at Planned Parenthood may have to go to other providers who are already stretched thin. This is going to be a public health emergency...We’re watching it happen as we speak.” —Kayla Herring

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Canadian-American author writing about local politics, personal finance, & dining in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, NM
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