*Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with a comment from the governor’s office.
SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – After New Mexico’s Legislature approved legal protections for individuals seeking abortions, reproductive healthcare, and gender-affirming care, one New Mexico city is asking a state court to step in.
House Bill 7, sponsored by Democratic legislators prohibits public entities, like cities, from interfering (even indirectly) with a person’s access to reproductive healthcare. New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the bill into law in March.
Now, the City of Eunice, which sits about five miles from the Texas border, is taking the governor and New Mexico’s attorney general to court. In a complaint filed with the Lovington District Court, the City is asking the court to declare that federal law, which Eunice argues is the “supreme Law of the Land”, and which makes it illegal to ship or receive abortion medication, should overrule the new state law.
Eunice is at the center of New Mexico’s abortion debate after enacting an ordinance that requires abortion clinics to comply with that federal law. In legal filing, Eunice argues that “the city’s ordinance does not outlaw or prohibit abortion.”
Eunice is also asking the court to declare that the new state law, House Bill 7, protects only conduct that is legal under federal law.
In response to the lawsuit, Attorney General Raúl Torrez says he plans on asking the state’s Supreme Court to take the case from the district court. Torrez says they are best suited to handle the issue.
“The attorney general’s office will be seeking a stay of the district court action and will continue to fight to protect reproductive freedom in New Mexico,” Torrez said in a statement.
KRQE News 13 reached out to the governor’s office for a comment on the lawsuit. They responded with one statement: “We are confident that the courts will uphold the laws of New Mexico.”
This isn’t the only legal battle being waged over abortion access in New Mexico. The New Mexico Supreme Court recently ordered that local cities and counties put a pause on ordinances that opponents say restrict access to care. Attorney General Torrez says the legal arguments being made in the state Supreme Court Case are similar to the arguments being made by the City of Eunice in this most recent case.
Nationally, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the common abortion drug, Mifepristone. The FDA has previously approved some versions and uses of the drug, but the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling on Friday, April 20, that has the potential to change how easy – or difficult – it is to get Mifepristone.