Historic legislation to repeal the 1969 abortion ban has been passed by both chambers in the New Mexico Legislature and now heads to the Governor
SANTA FE – Today, the Respect NM Women and Families Act, Senate Bill 10, was passed by the House of Representatives after being fully debated by the chamber. The historic legislation, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque), Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe), and co-sponsored by Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena (D-Mesilla), Rep. Joanne Ferrary (D-Las Cruces), Rep. Georgene Louis (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Deborah Armstrong (D-Albuquerque) and Speaker of the House of Representatives Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe), was passed with overwhelming support with a final vote of 40-30.
If signed into law, the Respect NM Women and Families Act would repeal a pre-Roe v. Wade statute still on the books from the 1960s that criminalizes abortion care in almost all circumstances. At a time where legislatures across the United States are currently trying to pass abortion bans and restrictions to abortion care access, New Mexico’s 55th Legislature has voted to repeal an archaic and discriminatory abortion ban that was originally passed 52 years ago.
“In my culture, our way of life is the supreme law of the land and it is the essence of our survival. We are a matriarchal society that highly values the decision making power of our grandmothers and mothers,” said Krystal Curley, a Diné community leader from McKinley County, a Fellow with Forward Together Action, and an Expert Witness for Senate Bill 10. “We inherently believe that our women are capable of making decisions for themselves, their family, and their community. I’m proud to rise with advocates, legislators and families across New Mexico to repeal the outdated abortion ban, and I applaud our legislature for taking this historic vote. This vote was not just for us but for our daughters and the next seven generations to come.”
Today’s historic vote did not happen in a vacuum. Years of persistence from community advocates, leaders, and organizations from across New Mexico who tirelessly worked to remove the 1969 abortion ban — since this legislation was originally introduced in 2017 — are at the heart of this historic vote. This is direct evidence of what is possible when Black, Indigenous, women of color and people are centered in the work towards reproductive justice.
“I want to recognize the power of the people. We showed up and showed out for our communities,” said Nicole Martin (Navajo, Laguna Pueblo, Chiricahua Apache, and Zuni Pueblo) Co-founder and Sex Educator of Indigenous Women Rising. “As an Indigenous person who lives within Tiwa territory (Albuquerque, NM) and who attended every committee and floor hearing, I was doing my part to advocate on behalf of the future generations. This 1969 abortion ban was inherently racist, transphobic and just harmful. Watching the way representatives and senators were trying to uphold these archaic values says a lot. This historic moment will be pivotal in the way healthcare is accessed for Indigenous, Black, Immigrant, LGBTQ+ communities. I’m grateful to my relatives who were vulnerable in testimony and to strangers asking for their humanity to be heard. We endured the harmful words and actions of white supremacy so future generations don’t have to.”
“It is with respect that I represent Tewa Women United and our voices as survivors of colonial and state violence that still impacts our lives,” said Dr. Corrine Sanchez, Executive Director of Tewa Women United. “New Mexico has many unconstitutional, outdated statutes that define, dehumanize, and regulate our being as Native women indigenous to this land. Body sovereignty and self-determination are vital for Indigenous women’s health and well-being. Abortion care is part of holistic healthcare that every woman and family should be able to access. We are glad to see our Legislature prioritizing abortion care access for all Indigenous peoples across New Mexico with this historic vote.”
“Today we’ve taken another important step in repealing an antiquated statute and working to keep abortion accessible, safe and legal in New Mexico. I extend my deep thanks and appreciation to my fellow co-sponsors in the House for bringing us to this milestone. The stories shared by women were personal, powerful, and perfectly illustrate why a pregnant person and their family should be able to make this difficult decision for themselves. Reproductive rights are human rights,” said Senate Majority Whip and bill sponsor Senator Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque).
Outdated and dangerously restrictive laws such as the 1969 abortion ban take complex, personal decisions away from New Mexicans and restrict access to abortion care. The 1969 abortion ban could make abortion a felony, jeopardizing access to safe and legal care in New Mexico. Patients seeking abortion care would be forced to beg for permission from a panel of strangers.
“As a woman, and a survivor of a sexual assault, bodily agency is everything to me,” says Charlene Bencomo, Executive Director of Bold Futures. “It is a right that should be afforded to all of us in ALL cases, not only when we are victims of the unthinkable. Today our legislators stood with our communities to protect access in New Mexico. Now, abortion care is more than the exception.”
“I am 78 years old and I am in tears – with tears of joy and relief – that the New Mexico Women and Families Act will soon become law and our state’s archaic, punitive and discriminatory 1969 abortion ban will finally be gone,” said Janet Gotkin, a community leader and lifelong Member of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Santa Fe Chapter. “Our families will not have to return to the dark, dangerous days before Roe v Wade, when abortion was illegal. We thank our Legislators for having the courage and heart to make an unequivocal statement: government does not belong in the privacy of women and pregnant people’s healthcare decisions. This is a giant step forward toward our shared goal of ensuring autonomy and respect for all people across New Mexico.”
Abortion care and access have been under constant attack since 1973 when the landmark court case that legalized abortion care in the US, Roe v Wade, was decided. After the last presidential administration stacked the bench, the Supreme Court of the United States now has an anti-abortion majority. There is already a case aimed at weakening and overturning Roe v Wade in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case out of Mississippi will consider the state’s 15 week abortion ban.
“This is a truly momentous victory for women and pregnant people in our state,” said Ellie Rushforth, reproductive rights counsel for the ACLU of New Mexico. “At a time when anti-abortion politicians are eroding abortion rights across the country, New Mexico lawmakers just voted to secure a future where all people in New Mexico have the right and ability to determine their own lives and seek the care that is right for them and their families without fear of punishment.”
“This victory belongs to all New Mexicans. It belongs to the activists, the voters, the communities, and the families who insisted that our bodily autonomy, our personal decisions, and our human rights be respected,” said Sondra Roeuny, Director of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico. “In this moment, we reflect on how far we have come, and look to a bright future for reproductive rights in our state. Today, we’ve made history – and it’s only the beginning.”
Senate Bill 10 now heads to reproductive healthcare champion, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, for her consideration to be signed into law. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, or is weakened by the Supreme Court of the United States, the 1969 abortion ban could quickly become enforceable again if the Respect NM Women Act is not signed into law.
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. Members of Respect New Mexico Women are the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, Bold Futures, Equality New Mexico (EQNM), Girls Inc. of Santa Fe, Indigenous Women Rising, Las Cruces Coalition for Reproductive Justice, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Albuquerque Chapter, National Organization for Women (NOW) New Mexico chapter, NOW Santa Fe chapter, NOW Albuquerque chapter, New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, New Mexico Women’s Agenda, Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico, ProgressNow New Mexico, Southwest Women’s Law Center, Strong Families New Mexico, Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), Tewa Women United, and Whole Woman’s Health.