New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday signed a bill into law that repeals not only the state’s 1969 abortion ban but also conscience protections for hospitals and healthcare workers.
The bill, S.B. 10, had passed the state House, 40-30, and the Senate, 25-17, before being signed into law by the Democratic governor, who supports abortion rights.
Although the 1969 law is not being enforced, Grisham and others wanted it repealed in case the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide.
“A woman has the right to make decisions about her own body,” Grisham said. “Anyone who seeks to violate bodily integrity, or to criminalize womanhood, is in the business of dehumanization. New Mexico is not in that business – not anymore.”
The 1969 law outlawed abortion but included exceptions for rape, incest and to save the mother’s life or to stop a “grave impairment” to the woman. It also permitted an abortion if the unborn baby would have had a “grave physical or mental defect.”
The bill’s opponents criticized not only the removal of protections for the unborn but also the removal of protections for hospitals and healthcare workers who oppose abortion.
Grisham’s signature repealed an entire paragraph from law – Section 30-5-2 – that said hospitals are not required to “admit any patient for the purposes of performing an abortion.” The protections also said a healthcare worker who “objects to the justified medical termination on moral or religious grounds shall not be required to participate in medical procedures which will result in the termination of pregnancy.”
Elisa Martinez, executive director of the New Mexico Alliance for Life, criticized the bill after it passed the House.
“It's a sad day for New Mexico as a handful of radical legislators had to deceive the public about the true nature of the nation's most expansive abortion bill in order to get it hastily passed," Martinez said.
Opponents predicted that healthcare workers would leave the state.
“It leaves no choice to our doctors,” said Republican state Sen. Crystal Diamond.
Steve Pearce, chair of the Republican Party of New Mexico, also criticized the new law.
“The new law is an immoral, dangerous one – a law that allows late-term abortion and offers no protections for girls, women or health professionals,’ Pearce said. “It permits the murder of the unborn, endangers the health and lives of women and eliminates any conscience provision to allow a doctor to opt out if he or she opposes the procedure on moral, ethical or religious grounds.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Toya Sarno Jordan/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.