Wed. Sep 27th, 2023

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — National and regional advocacy groups have urged the New Mexico Supreme Court to strike down recent abortion-ban ordinances in several cities and counties, in a legal filing Monday.

The Supreme Court has not said yet whether it will consider legal arguments from independent parties, including a professional society for obstetricians and gynecologists, and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. The court blocked local abortion ordinances while it deliberates.

The new briefing says that local abortion restrictions would “create a checkerboard of regulatory restrictions and enforcement schemes” that undermines uniform health care access and standards, especially pregnancy-related care in remote and impoverished communities. The arguments were cosigned by Planned Parenthood, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the local advocacy group Bold Futures NM.

Three anti-abortion groups, including a member of the national Family Policy Alliance, also recently entered the legal fray with their own briefing. They argued local governments have the right to enforce federal abortion restrictions under a 19th century U.S. law that prohibits the delivery of abortion medication and supplies.

The state attorney general petitioned the high court to strike down abortion-ban ordinances approved by local governments spanning much of eastern New Mexico. Attorney General Raúl Torrez argued that the local laws violate state constitutional guarantees — including New Mexico’s equal rights amendment that prohibits discrimination based on sex or being pregnant.

Local governments of Lea and Roosevelt counties, and the cities of Hobbs and Clovis, where opposition to abortion runs deep, are disputing that interpretation of the state constitution as they defend local abortion restrictions. Since the court case began, additional abortion bans have been adopted near Albuquerque in central New Mexico and in Eunice near the Texas state line.

State abortion laws in New Mexico are among the most liberal in the country.

In 2021, the Legislature repealed a dormant 1969 statute that outlawed most abortion procedures as felonies, ensuring access to abortion even after the U.S. Supreme Court last year rolled back guarantees.

This year, Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed two abortion-rights bills that override local ordinances aimed at limiting access and shield abortion providers from prosecution by out-of-state interests.

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