New Mexico Capitol Building, The Roundhouse

SANTA FE (BNM) - A bill that would have removed state statutes criminalizing abortion in New Mexico was defeated 18-24 by the state’s senate March 14, weeks after it was passed in the house. 

If it had passed the senate, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said she would sign the bill. 

House Bill 51, alternatively referred to as “Decriminalize Abortion,” would have repealed New Mexico state statutes 30-5-1, and 30-5-3, which pertain to abortion procedures and regulations in the state. A repeal of these statutes would have removed a provision requiring parental consent before a minor can receive an abortion (30-5-1), a provision requiring abortions be performed only by licensed medical doctors (30-5-1), and makes performing an abortion a fourth-degree felony (30-5-3). 

A previous version of the bill included a repeal of state statute 30-5-2, which protects medical professionals’ and facilities’ right to opt out of performing abortions due to conscience or faith concerns.

Rep. Joanne J. Ferrary (D-Dona Ana), Rep. Georgene Louis (D-Bernalillo-26), Sen. Linda M. Lopez (D-Bernalillo), Deborah A. Armstrong (D-Bernalillo) and Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) introduced the bill in the house on Jan. 16. The House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee passed a substitute bill passed Jan. 28, which was subsequently passed by the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 1, where statute 30-5-2 was removed. From there, the bill moved to the senate for debate and a final vote.

On Thursday, March 14, prior to opening the senate floor to debate, Sen. Lopez said that the bill removes “from our statutes a law that is no longer needed due to Roe v. Wade,” while also arguing that the bill would ensure “… abortion remains safe and legal. It also makes sure that we do not send women and doctors to prison for providing safe healthcare.” 

During the debate, Sen. Gabriel Ramos (D-Catron, Grant and Socorro), evoked his Catholic faith as he spoke in opposition to bill, saying, “I support consistent ethics of life, I stand unified against any legislation that weakens the defense of life and threatens the dignity of the human being.”

Other legislators who spoke during the debate were Sen. Daniel A. Ivey-Soto (D-Bernalillo), Sen. Majority Whip Mimi Stewart (D-Bernalillo), and Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D-Bernaillo),

John Block, assistant director of communications for New Mexico Alliance for Life, provided the Baptist New Mexican with a statement on behalf of the organization:

"We are so thankful to the senators who stood up for women, unborn children, and their constituents tonight to vote against HB-51. The tide is turning in New Mexico once and for all, and we embrace our diverse cultural tradition that has always celebrated life. We thank all of our coalition partners Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico, Right to Life Committee of New Mexico, Care Net of Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Espanola, the NM Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Hispanic Action Network and others who fought alongside us this session. We especially thank the legislators in the House and Senate who have made this a priority. It's time to start having an honest discussion about this issue and address the concerns that most New Mexicans have. We need to work together to end late-term abortion once and for all, restore parental involvement in minors' abortion decisions, and ensure our medical professionals' conscience will always be protected from being forced to participate in an abortion. We will continue to work together to restore a culture of life in New Mexico and oppose abortion extremism."

During an appearance on the national radio program Washington Watch With Tony Perkins, Jay McCollum, president of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s Christian Life Committee, told Sarah Perry he “can’t underestimate the power of prayer. All across our state we have been having prayer meetings, prayer groups, churches stopping in their worship services pray.”

In a statement posted to its Facebook page, the ACLU of New Mexico said they are “committed to continuing our efforts towards seeing this law criminalizing women's health care repealed. The fight isn't over and we won't give up until this law is off of our books in New Mexico.”

The 18-24 defeat crossed party lines, with eight Democratic senators and all sixteen Republican senators voting against the bill.

The Baptist New Mexican reached out the governor’s office for comment but did not receive a reply.

Danny Porter is a staff writer with the Baptist New Mexican news journal and GoBNM.com, news and information outlets for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

Media Services Assistant / Staff Writer

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