SANTA FE – After a two-hour long delay and a hearing marred by technical difficulties and limited public participation, the “virtual” Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee today voted along party lines to repeal New Mexico’s abortion law. Senate Bill 10, sponsored by Democratic Senator Linda Lopez (District 11-Bernalillo) and others, would strike an entire section of law that among other things protects medical professionals from being forced to participate in abortions and requires that abortions be performed by licensed physicians.
“Though some of the existing law is unenforceable because of Roe v. Wade, this statute contains important provisions that protect our doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals,” said Senator Gregg Schmedes (District 19-Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe, and Torrance).” As a medical doctor, I have heard from many of my colleagues that if they lose these vital conscience protections, they will consider leaving the state which would threaten healthcare access for many New Mexicans.”
The current law includes protections from recriminatory action when a hospital or their staff decline to perform abortions based on “moral or religious grounds.” In 1973, the New Mexico Court of Appeals declared this section of the law to be constitutional and a 1990 New Mexico Attorney General Opinion further reiterated its constitutionality.
“A total repeal of New Mexico’s abortion law is not the solution,” added Senator Crystal Diamond (District 35-Dona Ana, Hidalgo, Luna, and Sierra). “In addition to keeping the conscience clause intact, we should be working to strengthen, not weaken standards of care for women. The thought that a non-physician would be allowed to perform a dangerous, late-term abortion on a minor child without any parental knowledge is unconscionable. That is the type of scenario we are exposing women to if this bill passes.”
Senate Bill 10 advanced from the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee on a 5-3 vote with all three Republican Senators, Gregg Schmedes, David Gallegos, and Stuart Ingle, voting in opposition. The bill will now be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it could be heard as early as next week.
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