AG Raúl Torrez sues state counties, cities over abortion ordinances

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico Attorney General, Raúl Torrez, is suing New Mexico cities and counties which recently passed ordinances to limit abortion. He says the local governments are overstepping their authority.

Torrez says he believes the New Mexico Constitution already protects a woman’s right to seek an abortion, and that these local governments are simply taking notes from other states.

“This ladies and gentleman is not Texas, a woman’s right to choose is guaranteed by the New Mexico Constitution,”said Torrez.  

The attorney general’s lawsuit is filed against Roosevelt and Lea counties as well as the cities of Hobbs and Clovis for ordinances passed in the last few months targeting abortion clinics.

But Torrez says these bills should have never been proposed.

“Simply put local communities are not empowered to regulate medical services. They are not empowered to regulate access to healthcare, and to take the actions they have does infringe on the state’s ability, and the Legislature’s ability to control, and regulate the most essential services that are available in any community,” Torrez said. 

With the future of the ordinances in the hands of the state Supreme Court, multiple pro-life organizations are coming to the defense of these local governments.

“New Mexico is in a very pro-life state, communities have the right to say ‘we don’t want that here,’ ‘we don’t want that in our backyard.’ So we are standing with them,” said Ethel Maharg, executive director of the Right to Life. 

Maharg says a Texas lawyer has offered his help.

“But Texas understands what they’ve done when they pass their bills, and they’re helping us because attorney Jonathan Mitchell he’s very well accomplished, and he’s offered to represent these counties, the cities, and their taxpayers at no cost,” said Maharg. 

But with the Roundhouse now in session, and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham calling for Roe v. Wade to be codified in the state Constitution, critics are asking if the lawsuit is jumping the gun.

Torrez says he isn’t holding his breath to see if that legislation passes.

“While I would like to see this statue pass, because I can certainly think it would reinforce the position that we’ve taken today, I have a separate legal obligation to make an argument before the New Mexico Supreme Court that provides for an independent avenue for guaranteeing these rights,” he said. 

Torrez says because he filed this lawsuit as an emergency, he expects it to go in front of the state Supreme Court by the end of the legislative session, but it is up to the court to schedule the hearings.

The following statement was sent to KOB 4 Monday in response: