New Mexico can now stop city governments from passing abortion restrictions

The governor of New Mexico signed an abortion rights bill Thursday, overruling local ordinances aimed at restricting access to abortion procedures and medicines.

New Mexico reproductive health clinics offer abortion procedures to patients from states, including Texas, with strict abortion bans. The new law also aims to ensure access to gender-affirming health care related to stress about gender identity that does not match a person’s assigned gender.

New Mexico has one of the most liberal abortion laws in the country, but two counties and three cities in eastern New Mexico have recently enacted abortion restrictions that reflect deep-seated opposition to offering the procedure.


The bill, signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, overrides those local ordinances.

An additional law moving through the New Mexico legislature would protect abortion providers and patients from outside interference, prosecution or extradition attempts.

State Senator Katy Duhigg, upper right, chairs an hour-long debate on a bill that would shore up access to abortions statewide amid a spate of local anti-abortion regulations March 7, 2023 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Governor Grisham signed the abortion rights bill into law on Thursday. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

In 2021, the Democrat-led New Mexico Legislature passed a measure repealing a dormant 1969 law that banned most abortion procedures and ensured access to abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade had picked up.

Anti-abortion ordinances — passed in recent months by officials in the cities of Hobbs, Clovis and Eunice, and in Lea and Roosevelt counties — point to an obscure U.S. anti-obscenity law that bans the shipment of drugs or other materials that intended to support abortion.


Separately, Democratic Attorney General Raúl Torrez has asked the state Supreme Court to crack down on local abortion ordinances it says violate state constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Democratic governors in 20 states this year launched a network to increase access to abortion after the US Supreme Court overturned a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. The decision shifted regulatory powers over the process to state governments.

Many states have also enacted or considered restrictions or outright bans on transgender medical treatment, with conservative US lawmakers saying they are concerned that young people would later regret irreversible body-altering treatment.

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