Debate on abortion in New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Chants like “one, two, three, four, abortion is worth fighting for” could be heard on the University of New Mexico campus as pro Roe v. Wade activists called for the end to abortion bans which some New Mexico cities and counties have put into place. 

“Progress isn’t going to happen overnight, and I have to remind myself that changes are slow. But I think events like this where we get the opportunity to voice our rights, and bring attention to what we are saying and what is going to bring the change,” one protester Leah Garcia said. 

We saw similar demonstrations around the state Sunday, 50 years to the day after the Roe v. Wade decision. Many fighting for abortion rights are speaking out against recent decisions from leaders in rural areas of the state. 

In the last few weeks both the city of Clovis and Roosevelt County have passed ordinances that aim to restrict access to abortions. We want to clarify, currently there are no abortion clinics in eastern New Mexico in either Roosevelt County or in Clovis. 

Both the city and county passed very similar ordinances in January that would require any abortion clinic looking to open to apply for a specific business license, and agree to not bring in any abortion tools, or medicine through the mail or over state lines. 

The Clovis ordinance passed by a vote of seven in favor and one abstention, and the commission chambers erupted with applause. Then the mayor shared why he supported this bill. 

“I’ve told the city and folks in this room over and over again, I am pro-life that is my personal makeup and that I believe it is clear a baby in the womb is in fact a baby, and a separate and distinct human being with separate and distinct DNA and heartbeat. And I believe those lives are valuable and worthy of the protections afforded to us all by the US Constitution,” Mayor Mike Morris said. 

But not everyone in Clovis agrees with the mayor and commission. On Sunday pro Roe v. Wade protesters gathered in both Clovis and Portales. 

“Even folks in rural New Mexico want to have privacy, and have access to quality healthcare, and be able to make decisions about their own bodies, about their own health care, and feel strongly it’s the people who should be making those decisions and being able to vote and that not just a small few on commissions,” said Laura Wight, an Eastern New Mexico Rising protest organizer.  

During these rallies protesters did more than chant, they were also gathering signatures for a petition that would force the commission to put this ordinance to a city-wide vote. 

“We are super excited to announce to say in Clovis we have surpassed our number, so we will be turning in our pages of signatures to the city clerk tomorrow,” Wight said. 

The petition to overturn the Roosevelt County ordinance is still a few hundred signatures short. 

Now, during that city commissioner meeting in Clovis, the mayor recognized state legislation could overrule the ordinance they just passed. But he says they are prepared to revisit the wording if needed.

While these protesters are taking what action they can right now they are hopeful Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sticks to her promise to codify Roe v. Wade in the New Mexico state constitution.

“What’s happening in eastern New Mexico is a perfect example of something a lot of folks in New Mexico took for granted, so they just thought in New Mexico we are safe, and I think this is a great example of how that is not the case,” Wight said.

The legislative session is currently underway, so we’ll see if the Legislature delivers on the governor’s goals.