NM Senate fails to pass bill to decriminalize abortion


March 14, 2019

NM Senate fails to pass bill to decriminalize abortion

HB 51 would repeal a criminal abortion statute on the books

SANTA FE - Today, the New Mexico Senate failed to pass HB 51, "Decriminalize Abortion," by a vote of 18-24.

New Mexico still has a pre-Roe v Wade, criminal abortion statute on the books. HB 51 sought to repeal sections of NM state law enacted in 1969 that made performing an abortion a crime. The law has been largely unenforceable and deemed unconstitutional since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade.  When the Court weakens or overturns Roe, New Mexico's criminal statute could take effect, making performing an abortion a fourth-degree felony.

HB 51 was sponsored by Reps. Joanne Ferrary, Georgene Louis, Deborah Armstrong, Eliseo Alcon, Sen. Linda Lopez, and Speaker Brian Egolf.

Supporters of the bill included medical professionals, community members, non-profit organizations, and legal organizations. The New Mexico Medical Society, the New Mexico Public Health Association, the New Mexico Academy of Family Physicians, and the New Mexico Chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) were in strong support of HB 51.

Adriann Barboa of Strong Families New Mexico expressed disappointment in the Senate’s vote, stating, “This is a failure for the health care providers, women, and families of New Mexico. Health care providers and New Mexican families made it clear that this bill was critical, but some Senators still chose not to pass this bill.”

"HB 51 simply repealed an outdated, dangerous, antiquated law that doesn't belong on the books in 2019," said Ellie Rushforth, an attorney with the ACLU of New Mexico. "HB 51 did not seek to change how abortion services are provided or regulated but would have ensured that healthcare providers and their patients would never face prison time for safe care.”

Health care providers, including family physician Farinaz Khan, supported HB 51 because of its implications on the delivery of safe and legal medical care. “Medical care is highly regulated. We don’t need a criminal law that threatens health care providers and their patients with jail simply for providing and seeking deeply personal healthcare. Failing to pass this bill is an insult to medical practice in New Mexico and interferes with the provider-patient relationship.”

Supporters also expressed their disappointment by sharing personal stories with legislators about and how passing HB 51 would impact their families. “Women in New Mexico need a range of pregnancy-related care in our lives. I had a complex and dangerous pregnancy, but made the decision to carry my son, " said Noreen Kelly, a community leader from Churchrock New Mexico. "I had a child of choice- on my own terms with the love and support of my family. That will not be the right decision for every woman. The decision to not pass HB51 puts women like me and our families in harm's way.”


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

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