A monumental decision handed down by the US Supreme Court on Friday, overturning Roe v. Wade and wiping out 50 years of federal protections for abortion rights, has advocates shocked and appalled, while conservatives praise the move that will result in nearly half of states outlawing abortion.
Emboldened by a conservative majority after former President Donald Trump made three appointments to the high court, justices delivered the 5-4 decision that will allow individual states the authority to set their own abortion laws. Thirteen states already put abortion bans into place, anticipating that Roe v. Wade would be overturned.
In the final opinion issued by Justice Samuel Alito, he wrote the “Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision…”
The initial message from advocates and abortion-care providers in New Mexico is that the state remains a safe place for individuals seeking the procedure. However, there’s a concern about the ruling’s impact on centers.
“Abortion care is still legal in New Mexico,” Kayla Herring, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said in a virtual new conference Friday afternoon. “If you have an appointment to get an abortion, even with today’s Supreme Court ruling, here in New Mexico you still can. Our work here is not done…We are working as quickly as we can to expand access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care, including abortion care, across the whole state of New Mexico.”
In anticipation of the ruling, state lawmakers last year passed Senate Bill 10, repealing a 1969 ban on abortions, safeguarding the procedure in the event of Friday’s decision. The law previously criminalized performing abortions, except for cases wherein a pregnancy threatens the health or life of the mother.
State Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, who helped repeal the statute, said New Mexico has an opportunity to serve people from other states who are looking for access to abortions.
“Even though it’s a day of hurt, I believe that we as persons—women—have the autonomy of rights over our bodies,” she said. “I’m very hopeful that we will be working together to strengthen that autonomy that is part of the human rights that we have in this country of ours, contrary to what the Supreme Court of the United States issued in their decision today.”
While some states are moving quickly to ban the procedure, New Mexico is not expected to follow suit. However, some conservative lawmakers have celebrated the ruling and hinted they might introduce legislation to limit abortion. Republican gubernatorial candidate and former TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti issued a statement saying he would work with the Legislature to pass laws banning late-term and partial-birth abortions, but allow the procedure for up to 15 weeks into a pregnancy term.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, meanwhile, called the ruling a “war on women” in a statement, saying she will “stand as a brick wall against those who seek to punish women and their doctors just because they seek the care they need and deserve.”
Democrats control the state House and Senate. State Rep. Linda Serrato, D-Santa Fe, said the majority of those Democrats are committed to keeping New Mexico a safe place for abortion care.
“We are committed to protecting the rights we have enshrined here and making sure there’s no rollbacks,” she said in the news conference. “There’s no room for questioning and threatening the rights of young women or pregnant people crossing lines.”
Providers say the state already had a need for more reproductive care centers. After Texas passed its heartbeat bill almost a year ago, Planned Parenthood saw nearly 1,700 patients cross state lines to access abortion care. Now that even more people from out of state are expected to come to New Mexico, capacity is a vital concern.
“What we know is we are watching a public health emergency in the making,” Herring said. “When abortion health centers begin to be at capacity for the care they’re able to provide, we’re also going to see stress on our health care system of people who are not able to go into a Planned Parenthood or another reproductive health center to access STI testing, treatment and prevention, birth control and pregnancy exams.”
One business reacts
At Meow Wolf, one of New Mexico’s larger employers and one with businesses in Nevada and Colorado, the company has recently announced its intent to open locations in Texas, which would obviously adversely affect employees who wish to have access to abortion services.
The arts corporation likes to tout its B-Corp status, which certifies it as a business that “meets the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose,” according to business site cultivatingcapital.com.
Meow Wolf’s Chief Communications Officer Didi Bethurum says in a statement that it “will continue to support employees healthcare decisions, including access to safe abortion and comprehensive family planning. Our benefits programs are designed to support the health and safety of our employees. Meow Wolf’s health insurance plan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico, will continue to offer coverage for abortion services.”
As for current and future employees in states affected by today’s decision?
“We are in conversation with our healthcare providers and exploring how our employees could access comprehensive healthcare services in another state,” the statement says, “including coverage for travel expenses to access care. We are committed to providing comprehensive reproductive health coverage to employees and dependents.”