By MORGAN LEE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s Democratic governor took steps Monday to ensure safe harbor to people seeking abortions or providing abortions at health care facilities within the state.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order that prohibits cooperation with other states that might interfere with abortion access in New Mexico, declining to carry out any future arrest warrants from other states related to anti-abortion provisions. The order also prohibits most New Mexico state employees from assisting other states in investigating or seeking sanctions against local abortion providers.
“Residents seeking access will be protected, providers will be protected, and abortion is and will continue to be legal, safe and accessible, period,” said Lujan Grisham, who is running for a second term in November.
After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision and ended constitutional protection for abortion, the battle over abortion rights has shifted to lower courts around the country, as one side sought quickly to put statewide bans into effect and the other tried to stop or at least delay such measures.
Lujan Grisham has signaled her steadfast support for continuing legal access to abortion in New Mexico.
She also ordered a review to ensure that reproductive health care providers won’t be disqualified or disciplined by state professional licensure provisions under criteria from other states.
“It means we will not cooperate for any criminalization attempt,” Lujan Grisham said at a news conference at her Capitol offices. “I think you will see a coalition of states that really work to shut off access” to abortion.
Last year, Lujan Grisham signed legislation to repeal a dormant 1969 statute that outlawed most abortion procedures.
New Mexico is likely to continue to see a steady influx of people seeking abortions from neighboring states with more restrictive abortion laws. It already hosts patients from Texas and Oklahoma, where strict abortion bans were adopted earlier this year.
Albuquerque is home to one of only a few independent clinics in the country that perform abortions in the third trimester without conditions. An abortion clinic in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, is just a mile from the state line with Texas near El Paso.
The Republican nominee for governor, former television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti, has proposed a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for rape, incest and when a mother’s life is at increased risk.
That legislative proposal was described as dead on arrival by Democratic state Senate Whip Linda Lopez of Albuquerque, who attended the news conference.
The owner of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization that is at the center of last week’s Supreme Court decision says that she plans to open a new clinic in Las Cruces, New Mexico, as soon as mid-July.
Lujan Grisham said she’ll encourage abortion providers to expand in New Mexico and consider possible financial incentives.
The governor said her administration would continue to pursue reductions in unplanned and unwanted pregnancies through state investments in family planning services and criminal justice programs, at the same time the state expands support for working families such as access to free child care.
“We should have fewer unwanted pregnancies. We should have fewer pregnancies from high risk issues, including violence, including rape,” she said. “We need to do more in the family planning and healthy-family space.”