On Sept. 1, a Texas law banned abortions after six weeks — before most women even know they’re pregnant. The law allows individuals to sue abortion providers and anyone who helps others access an abortion, putting doctors and women at risk.
The abortion ban is the most extreme in the country and will force many Texans to travel to New Mexico to access critical health care. In fact, New Mexico abortion providers are already experiencing an increase in Texan clients.
These laws have a direct impact on New Mexican health care providers and on women across our nation. That’s why we — Jessica Velasquez, chairwoman of the Democratic Party, and Socorro Linden, an advocate with Forward Together Action — are speaking out about the importance of access to abortion care.
As a college student, Jessica saw the importance of access to safe and legal abortion firsthand, when a close of friend of Jessica’s discovered she was pregnant following a sexual assault. Jessica stood by her friend, walking with her through aggressive anti-abortion protesters to a Planned Parenthood clinic and holding her hand as she decided to get an abortion. Since then, Jessica has worked to ensure women across the country have access to the same health care services as her friend.
Socorro’s life has been affected by the lack of reproductive health care access. Her mother, a devout Catholic, discovered she was pregnant shortly after the delivery of her seventh child. Devastated and scared about how another child would impact her family, her mom sought a “back-alley” abortion. Alone, Soccoro’s mother made the decision she thought was right for her family.
The abortion, as is often the case with illegal abortions, did not go well. Socorro’s mother experienced complications. Fortunately, she recovered and was able to be the loving mother her children needed. Socorro has never forgotten her mother’s fear and now speaks out to ensure no one has to struggle as her mother did.
Despite the work advocates are doing, we are seeing a wave of anti-abortion legislation across the country. This year, New Mexico bucked that trend by passing legislation to protect access to reproductive health care. In February, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham made history by signing the Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act, repealing New Mexico’s archaic abortion ban.
Still, there are threats on the horizon. Every single New Mexico GOP gubernatorial candidate is rabidly anti-abortion. State Rep. Rebecca Dow has claimed that if elected, she would sign a Texas-style abortion ban in New Mexico. Candidates Greg Zanetti and Ethel Maharg have both served in leadership positions in anti-choice organizations.
These GOP candidates are extremists and out of touch with New Mexicans. In 2017, 74 percent of rural New Mexicans and 79 percent of Catholic New Mexicans said they respect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. New Mexicans all across the state believe people have the right to make their own choices about abortion.
New Mexico stands strong against the anti-abortion wave sweeping our country, but only as long as we protect it. We need to work together — elected leaders, community organizers, voters — to protect and support the health care providers, advocates and legislators who safeguard abortion access. New Mexico must remain a safe haven for abortion care — the future of reproductive freedom in the country depends on us.