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NM Reproductive-Rights Advocates Oppose Supreme Court Nominee

New Mexico has not passed any new legislation related to abortion in nearly 20 years. (Progress Now New Mexico)
New Mexico has not passed any new legislation related to abortion in nearly 20 years. (Progress Now New Mexico)
July 11, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Confirmation hearings for the newest U.S. Supreme Court nominee are not likely before September, but the selection of Brett Kavanaugh already has New Mexico reproductive-rights advocates mobilizing on two fronts.

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains has joined its national organization in opposing the confirmation. Their concern is President Donald Trump's promise to put "pro-life justices on the court," with the goal of overturning Roe vs. Wade, the 45-year-old ruling that granted women safe access to abortion.

At the same time, New Mexico is one of 10 states that makes abortion a crime under state law. The Roe case guarantees it can't be enforced, but Marshall Martinez, director of public affairs for New Mexico Planned Parenthood, said he wants the state law to be overturned.

"We at Planned Parenthood are working both to try to make sure that this confirmation does not happen," he said, "as well as to take this old law off the books so if it does happen, we have some protections here in New Mexico."

Nationally, Planned Parenthood is calling on the U.S. Senate to oppose Kavanaugh and only confirm a justice who believes all people have the right to make their own health-care decisions, including abortion and the use of contraceptives.

Unlike many states, New Mexico has no major types of abortion restrictions, such as waiting periods or mandated parental involvement. Martinez said that suggests the state's law from the 1960s that criminalizes abortion is out of step with residents' current beliefs.

"These are not New Mexican values anymore, you know," he said. "The opportunity to make personal medical decisions without political interference is a New Mexican value."

Several New Mexico legislators already have said they'll make rescinding the state anti-abortion law a priority in the next session. Gubernatorial candidates have been divided on the issue; Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham said she supports efforts for repeal, while Republican Steve Pearce said he believes all life should be cherished and respected.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM