New Mexico Committee Passes Bill Legalizing Abortions Up to Birth

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 4, 2019   |   4:16PM   |   Santa Fe, New Mexico

New Mexico soon may follow New York in legalizing abortion for basically any reason up to birth.

On Saturday, the state Senate Public Affairs Committee passed the pro-abortion bill in a 4-2 vote, according to New Mexico Political Report. The bill already passed the state House, and it has the support of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who claims to be a Catholic.

New Mexico already allows abortions up to birth by placing no limits on late-term abortions, but state House Bill 51 would codify that into law.

Sponsored by state Rep. Joanne Ferrary, the bill would repeal a statute from the 1960s that prohibits abortions except in cases of rape, incest or threats to the mother’s life. The statute is not in effect because of Roe v. Wade. It also would repeal conscience protections for medical workers who believe it is wrong to abort unborn babies.

Elisa Martinez, executive director of New Mexico Alliance for Life, criticized the governor and other pro-abortion politicians for ignoring public opinion on abortion.

“If the governor is so concerned with legislative overreach, why is she supporting a bill the majority of New Mexicans oppose, that would remove parental involvement in a minor’s abortion, force medical professionals to participate in abortions, and continue the practice of unregulated, forced taxpayer funding of abortion up-to-birth for any reason,” Martinez said.

A recent national poll by Marist University found that a majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortions. A 2016 Politico/Harvard University poll also found that just 36 percent of likely voters supported taxpayer funding for abortions, while 58 percent opposed it.

Similarly, a poll released last week found a sharp, double-digit uptick in the number of Americans who identify as pro-life after pro-abortion Democrats began pushing abortions up to birth and infanticide.

Martinez also called out two so-called Catholic senators who voted for the bill on Saturday: state Sens. Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Antoinette Sedillo-Lopez. She said Ortiz y Pino specifically invoked his faith as a reason for voting in favor of abortions.

“I am a practicing Catholic,” Ortiz y Pino said prior to voting. “It is my position that a woman has a right to her own choice. It’s between her and God and her conscience.”

Pro-life lawmakers and state residents expressed strong concerns about the bill forcing medical workers to help abort unborn babies against their will.

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According to the local news:

[State Sen. Stuart] Ingle, the minority leader, asked for a clarification from the experts on what the “conscience clause” means, a tension that’s been hashed and rehashed in every committee and floor hearing.

Ellie Rushforth, senior staff attorney at the New Mexican American Civil Liberties Union responded that there were “multiple redundancies” in federal and New Mexico statutes to protect doctor’s right to refuse to perform a procedure they morally oppose.

At one point in Ortiz y Pino’s closing statement murmurs erupted from those who opposed the bill, requiring a staff member to threaten to empty the room. He said legislators duty is not to tell people what is morally right or wrong, but what society decides to protect.

He directly addressed the bill’s opponents at one point.

“I think those people who want to believe that women should not have abortions, should exert their energy on educating their daughters and sons not to have abortions,” he said.

Martinez said they are not giving up hope for New Mexico. She said they have been encouraged by the “overwhelming public outcry” against the pro-abortion bill and will continue to fight for the safety of unborn babies and mothers in the state.

“We know the majority of New Mexicans are horrified at this radical measure, and our elected officials can no longer turn a blind eye to these concerns,” Martinez said.

One of the women who testified against the bill was Tina Atkins, the mother of a young woman who died along with her unborn baby at the late-term abortion facility Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque.

“How can anyone sit here and tell me that HB-51 will grant access to safe abortions when my daughter is dead from an abortion?” Atkins asked a House committee in January. “It is widely published in medical journals that after five months of pregnancy, a woman has an 89 times greater risk of death than earlier abortions.”

Atkins is suing the abortion facility for allegedly killing her daughter, Keisha, in a botched abortion.

The bill is similar to a New York state measure that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law in January. The Vermont, Rhode Island, Illinois and Massachusetts legislatures are considering similar legislation this winter.

ACTION ALERT: Contact New Mexico state senators to urge opposition to this bill.