New Mexico Senate Rejects Effort to Repeal Unenforced Law Criminalizing Abortion

Photo Credit: Valerio Lo Bello

SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico Senate has rejected an effort to repeal an existing, unenforced law that criminalizes abortion in the state.

Eight pro-life Democrats joined with the 16 Republicans in the Senate to defeat the measure 24-18. The New Mexico Senate has a Democratic majority.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, Sen. Gabriel Ramos, D-Silver City, cited his faith as he advised his colleagues on the Senate floor that he could not vote for the bill.

“This is one of the toughest decisions any of us will ever have to make,” he said. “I stand unified against legislation that weakens the defense of life and threatens the dignity of the human being.”

“The state of New Mexico must strive to protect and uphold the dignity of all people from conception to death,” Ramos declared.

As previously reportedHouse Bill 51, also known as “Decriminalize Abortion,” simply reads, “Sections 30-5-1 through 30-5-3 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1969, Chapter 67, Sections 1 through 3) are repealed.”

Sponsored by Reps. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces, and Georgene Louis, D-Albuquerque, the text refers to the criminal abortion statutes that were passed in 1969, and have been unenforced since the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade.

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“Criminal abortion consists of administering to any pregnant woman any medicine, drug or other substance, or using any method or means whereby an untimely termination of her pregnancy is produced, or attempted to be produced, with the intent to destroy the fetus, and the termination is not a justified medical termination,” the current law reads in part.

If the law were enforced, those who perform an abortion on a woman for a reason other than that which is deemed legally “justified” would be been charged with a fourth-degree felony.

A “justified medical termination” under the law pertains to cases where the pregnancy is deemed a threat to the life or “physical or mental health of the woman,” or if the baby had a serious “physical or mental defect,” or if the child was conceived in rape or incest.

There is no gestational limit in the statutes as to when those “justified” cases become illegal.

Read the current state law in full here. 

H.B. 51 had previously passed the House of Representatives 40-29, and had cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee with an amendment that would retain the conscience protections in the current statutes.

Senate Majority Whip Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, had supported the move to repeal, stating that “[i]t’s crucial that we do not criminalize doctors, nurses or women for these procedures.”

However, pro-life groups in the state were alarmed by the measure.

“H.B. 51 does not protect women. H.B. 51 keeps dangerous late-term abortions, up to birth, legal for any reason. The risk of death or serious injury to women increases to 89X in abortions after 5 months,” read a petition from New Mexico Alliance for Life.

The organization cheered the outcome on Thursday, thanking those who worked to defeat the effort to repeal.

“A big thank you to each and every one of you who called, prayed, emailed, defended life with us and defeated H.B. 51! We also thank the 100% vote from New Mexico House Republicans, New Mexico Senate Republicans, the 6 House Democrats and 8 Senate Democrats who stood for life, who listened to the voice of the people of New Mexico in defeating abortion extremism in our state,” it posted to social media.

Psalm 22:9 says of the Lord, “But thou art He that took me out of the womb. Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.”

Psalm 139:16 also teaches, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect, and in Thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”

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