Bill would take old abortion law off the books in New Mexico | KOB 4

Bill would take old abortion law off the books in New Mexico

Brittany Costello
December 18, 2017 07:24 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Almost 45 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade granted women safe access to abortion. With abortion once again, dominating national discussions, some are concerned that ruling could be overturned.


New Mexico has an old law on the books that makes having an abortion a crime, but Roe v. Wade guarantees it cannot be enforced. A state legislator is doing something about that concern in New Mexico. A house bill filed for the upcoming session looks to decriminalize it just in case that ruling is overturned.

"At the national level, [it's] being attacked a president who does not support abortion," said state Rep. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces.

Prior to the landmark ruling of Roe v Wade in 1973, restrictions in New Mexico made some abortions illegal. While not enforceable after the ruling, the law is still on the books. Ferrary sponsored House Bill 16 to decriminalize abortion.

"So we want to make sure that New Mexico respects women's decision, personal decision to have an abortion if needed," she said.

If it passed, would anything really change?  The answer is no, at least not yet. The concern comes if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, leaving the decision up to the states.

"They're getting closer. With a couple more, even one more court appointment done by Trump, it's likely that something will come up for them to overturn Roe vs. Wade," said Dauneen Dolce, the Right to Life Committee of New Mexico executive director. "

An even bigger concern comes, Ferrary said, if the ruling is chipped away to become meaningless. While Ferrary pushes for what she calls necessary and safe access to healthcare, Dolce wants to keep the current law there.

"And there is some limitation on time and reason," Dolce said. "It was a liberal law before Roe vs. Wade, but it would be a lot better than what we have right now."


Brittany Costello

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