NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – In an ongoing legal battle over access to abortion medication, a New Mexico district court judge has ordered a pause on one lawsuit. Fifth Judicial District Judge Lea A. Kirksey handed down the decision Wednesday, ordering a stay in the case between an Eastern New Mexico city and top state officials.

In April 2023, the City of Eunice filed a lawsuit against the New Mexico governor and others over a new state law set to go into effect in June. The law, House Bill 7, will prohibit public entities from interfering with individuals’ access to reproductive healthcare. The City of Eunice argued that a federal law makes it illegal to ship or receive abortion medication, potentially contradicting the new state law.

In response, New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez asked the court to pause the lawsuit, given the fact that a similar lawsuit is already ongoing in the New Mexico Supreme Court. Now, Judge Kirksey has granted that pause while the state Supreme Court weighs in.

“We applaud Judge Kirksey’s decision to stay the lawsuit filed by the City of Eunice as it seeks to deny women the right to reproductive healthcare and undermine the equal protection guarantees found in our state constitution,” Torrez said in a press release. “We refuse to allow women to be relegated to the status of second-class citizens and look forward to definitively resolving this question in the proper forum – the New Mexico Supreme Court.”

Michael Seibel, the lawyer representing the City of Eunice, says they were expecting the district court judge to pause the lawsuit. Seibel says that with the lawsuit, the city is trying to address an “unsafe and unregulated abortion industry.” And Seibel says despite the recent pause, he’s confident that the issues raised in the lawsuit will be eventually debated in court.