Respect New Mexico Women introduces reproductive health agenda

Respect New Mexico Women introduces reproductive health agenda

Package of bills support reproductive health & expand access to care

SANTA FE, N.M.--Respect New Mexico women, a coalition of local organizations dedicated to supporting access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, is announcing their 2017 legislative agenda to protect and expand access to reproductive healthcare in New Mexico. Legislation will include expanding coverage and access to contraception, protecting medical providers and patients from discriminatory religious refusals when seeking healthcare, and expanding workplace accommodations for pregnant workers.

HB 284, the Health Coverage for Contraception, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Armstrong, would update our existing laws to ensure that the full range of contraceptive options are covered by insurance companies without out-of-pocket costs or medically unnecessary restrictions. The bill would also improve access to contraception by covering access for both women and men and requiring insurance companies to cover up to a year’s supply of contraception at once.

“As a Chicana and generational New Mexican from Pecos, I am proud to have had the support of my mother to access the contraception I’ve needed,” said Alicia Chavez. “At 28 years old, I have made the decision not to have children yet-a decision that is only possible for me with access to free to low cost birth control. Having access to affordable contraception has allowed me the opportunity of traveling abroad, earn my Bachelor’s degree and on my way to complete my Master’s degree. Women and families in NM deserve the opportunity to make decisions about their lives with the support of affordable and accessible contraception.”

"As men take more active roles in family planning, they need access to multiple forms of contraception to do their part to prevent unintended pregnancies. Covering all types of contraception will also help all people protect themselves from HIV and other STIs by ensuring their access to condoms, the best method to stop transmission of STIs. Passing this bill will be a step forward in improving the public health of our state," said Marshall Martinez, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of New Mexico.

SB 282, the Put Patients First Act, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, would prevent hospitals and urgent care facilities from limiting a healthcare provider’s ability to provide medically accurate and comprehensive information to a patient, including the ability to make referrals or provide reproductive health services when a failure to do so could put a patient’s life or health in danger.

“During my first pregnancy, I was told by my doctor that my baby was no longer developing and my pregnancy was no longer viable. I needed to have a procedure done to complete my miscarriage and remove my fetus. Instead, the hospital my OB-GYN sent me to chose not to perform the procedure I needed. As a physician myself, it is unthinkable to me that a qualified medical provider would ever be prohibited by an institution from providing the standard of care their patients need. I’m compelled to speak out now because this is still happening to women like me all these years later. I’ve learned that I’m not alone, and I want to do all that I can to ensure that no other woman in our state has to experience this trauma in the future,” said Dr. Susan Scott, a pediatric endocrinologist.

HB 179, the New Mexico Pregnant Worker Accommodation Act, sponsored by Rep. Gail Chasey, would ensure that pregnant workers can continue to do their jobs and support their families by having access to reasonable accommodations at work for needs arising out of pregnancy.

"As a pregnant woman, I'm grateful to work at a place that allows me to take breaks or take walks as my doctor ordered to ensure I have a healthy pregnancy. But many pregnant workers struggle to keep their jobs because their employers only allow minimal breaks. Yes, we are pregnant, but we are also workers committed to our jobs, and this bill can protect us from workplace discrimination," said Kena Chavez-Hinojos, a pregnant Hopi mama.

Bill sponsors and individuals quoted will be available for interviews. To arrange for an interview or for more information, please contact Rachael Maestas at 505-321-1057

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Respect New Mexico Women is a movement of women, families, faith leaders, medical providers, and community-based organizations united in support of New Mexico women and their reproductive health decisions.

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