ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Friday’s United States Supreme Court ruling overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision has brought the debate over abortion access front and center. But how many abortions are performed in New Mexico? The numbers aren’t exact, but KRQE News 13 dug into the data to find out.
New Mexico’s access
New Mexico is generally considered to be a state with comparatively easy access to abortion. Many of the politicians in power in the state lean Democratic. And Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who’s running for reelection this fall, previously acted to support legal abortion.
“In anticipation of this very moment, we took action,” Grisham said in a press release Friday. “We eliminated New Mexico’s antiquated trigger ban on abortion, safeguarding the right of every woman in this state to make critical decisions about their own health and to decide for themselves – and their families – when to have children.”
In 2021, the Governor signed a law repealing New Mexico’s ban on abortion. That ban had been on the books for over 50 years. The act removed part of the state law allowing institutions and individuals to refuse to perform abortion, effectively leaving New Mexico without any statewide restrictions on abortions.
Given state laws, many New Mexicans do have access to abortions. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that at least 3,942 people received an abortion in New Mexico in 2019, the latest data available. Nearly a quarter of those were from out-of-state residents.
The CDC numbers count only legally induced abortions performed by licensed clinicians. They include surgery-based abortions, as well as abortions via medication.
That means that in New Mexico, for every 1,000 live births, there are around 172 abortions, according to the CDC data. That puts us in the top 25 states for the highest rate of abortions relative to live births. But far outranking us are states such as New York, where around 355 abortions are performed for every 1,000 live births.
But the data isn’t perfect. Not only is it a few years out of date, it also doesn’t include abortions performed in California and a few other states.
Additionally, the numbers don’t reflect whether or not all residents have access. Even here in New Mexico, residents who live farther from abortion facilities could be considered to have less access.
A 2021 study published on the American Medical Association’s JAMA Network shows that increased travel distance to abortion facilities is associated with significant reductions in the rate of abortions.
The study uses data from 2015 to show that in more rural New Mexico counties, the abortion rate is lower than in Bernalillo or Santa Fe county. The study also estimates that when New Mexicans live within 30 miles of an abortion facility, the rate at which they get abortions is about 10% lower than when they live within 5 miles.