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New Mexico gov. signs bill overriding local abortion bans

New Mexico has one of the country’s most liberal abortion access laws, but two counties and three cities in eastern New Mexico have recently adopted abortion restrictions

People rally in support of abortion rights Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in Las Vegas.
People rally in support of abortion rights Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in Las Vegas.John Locher (AP)

New Mexico’s governor signed an abortion-rights bill Thursday that overrides local ordinances aimed at limiting access to abortion procedures and medications. Reproductive health clinics in New Mexico offer abortion procedures to patients from states, including Texas, with strict abortion bans. The new law also aims to ensure access to gender affirming healthcare related to distress over gender identity that doesn’t match a person’s assigned sex.

New Mexico has one of the country’s most liberal abortion access laws, but two counties and three cities in eastern New Mexico have recently adopted abortion restrictions that reflect deep-seated opposition to offering the procedure.

The bill signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham overrides those local ordinances.

An additional bill working its way through New Mexico’s Legislature would protect abortion providers and patients from out-of-state interference, prosecution or extradition attempts.

In 2021, New Mexico’s Democrat-led Legislature passed a measure to repeal a dormant 1969 statute that outlawed most abortion procedures, which ensured access to abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year.

Anti-abortion ordinances — adopted over the past several months by officials in the cities of Hobbs, Clovis and Eunice, along with Lea and Roosevelt counties — reference an obscure U.S. anti-obscenity law that prohibits shipping of medication or other materials intended to aid abortions.

Separately, Democratic state Attorney General Raúl Torrez has urged the state Supreme Court to intervene against local abortion ordinances that he says violate state constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Democratic governors in 20 states this year launched a network intended to strengthen abortion access in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision nixing a woman’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy. The decision shifted regulatory powers over the procedure to state governments.

Many states have also enacted or contemplated limits or outright bans on transgender medical treatment, with conservative U.S. lawmakers saying they are worried about young people later regretting irreversible body-altering treatment.

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