Proposal to decriminalize abortion ignites heated debate

Politics - Government

There’s a lot of controversial proposals being hashed out at the state capitol this legislative session, one of them decriminalizes abortion.

Saturday, the governor weighed in on the issue after receiving petitions from New Mexicans in every county in support of the idea. 

It was standing room only in a Senate Committee meeting as lawmakers heard from people for and against House Bill 51.

The bill would eliminate a 1969 New Mexico statute which makes it a felony for an abortion provider to terminate a pregnancy with exceptions for rape, birth defects and serious threats to a woman’s health. 

However, the law has been unenforceable since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

“We have a moral obligation to empower women to support providers and to be clear we will not have an abstract actually in today’s climate almost bizarre unfair law,” says Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham 

Those in support of the bill including the governor say abortion is a part of health care and not passing this bill could create problems in the future.

“We should not be a state where we would criminalize a healthcare provider for doing their job,” said Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Those against the bill argue unborn children have rights.

“It’s not just the health care for the mother it’s health care for the child which is the child’s life,” says attorney Tom Montoya.

Others say it may prompt physicians who disagree with the procedure for conscience or religious reasons to leave New Mexico.

“If HB 51 is passed, it will be a devastating blow to medical care in rural New Mexico,” says Obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr. William Moore. 

After hearing from both side, Senators passed the bill on a party-line vote. House Bill 51 now heads to one more Senate Committee before it could get a full vote in the Senate.

If it passes, it would then head to the governor’s desk. There are only two weeks left in the 60-day legislative session.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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