ALBUQUERQUE — In what is being characterized as potentially the first-ever municipal late-term abortion ban, city council members in Albuquerque, New Mexico have voted to place a measure prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks on the ballot in the November elections.
“By 8 weeks after fertilization, the unborn child reacts to touch. After 20 weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human,” the proposed statute states. “Consequently, there is substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain at least by 20 weeks after fertilization, if not earlier.”
Therefore, “the abortion shall not be performed or attempted, if the probable post-fertilization age … of the unborn child is 20 weeks or greater,” it outlines, providing exceptions for the life and health of the mother.
The “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance” was presented by the local pro-life organization Project Defending Life and is able to be placed on the ballot as the group gathered enough signatures to mandate that city council either vote on it or put it up for a vote.
“The will of the people has prevailed tonight and we are excited to move forward to ensure that women and their babies are protected from perilous late term abortions,” Tara Shaver of the Project Defending Life told reporters. “We are confident moving forward that Albuquerque residents don’t want their city to be known for being the ‘go to’ place for late term abortions. Albuquerque is one step closer to seeing this come to an end.”
According to reports, in just 20 days, the organization gathered nearly 27,000 signatures in a petition to put the ordinance on the ballot. Polls show that 54 percent of Albuquerque residents support the ban, and 39 percent oppose it.
City council was sharply split on the measure. By a narrow margin of 5-4 council members agreed to put the ordinance up for a vote by the people.
“Every court that’s reviewed this type of law has decided it’s unconstitutional,” Councilor Roxanna Meyers, a Republican, told reporters. “I think it would be irresponsible of us to move forward.”
But city council President Dan Lewis said that it’s not the council’s job to decide on the constitutionality of the ordinance.
“We’re following the (City) Charter,” he said. “It’s not really our purview … to decide whether this is constitutional or not.”
Reaction to the proposed ban has been mixed.
“[G]lad the city is wasting $$ on a special election for an issue that is only 40 plus years old,” wrote a commenter named Mary. “Not like it could wait until the next scheduled election and we could use the $$ for something useful like educating our kids.”
“Medical science long ago established we are a new unique human being with our own DNA, our gender, hair and eye color are set at the moment our father’s sperm joins with our mother’s egg,” contended a commenter named Phillip. “At that moment each of us exists, all that is happening is we grow. Abortion ends that human being’s life. Why is that acceptable in a civilized society?”