Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham today announced a new executive order pledging $10 million of the governor’s capital outlay funds for the 2023 legislation session to build a new abortion clinic in Doña Ana County. The order also directs the health department to develop “a detailed plan to leverage state resources to expand access to all reproductive healthcare, including abortion, in underserved areas of the state,” and to assess the “feasibility of the provision of medication abortion in public health clinics overseen by the department.” In addition, the governor’s order directs the Human Services Department to “develop policies and take action to improve the efficiency and sustainability of access to reproductive health services.”
Lujan Grisham made the announcement in a virtual news conference with members of the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women, along with state lawmakers Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, and Rep. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces, both of whom co-sponsored a bill last year repealing a 1969 state law that had criminalized abortion in the New Mexico.
The executive order is Lujan Grisham’s second since the June 24 US Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and ending a 50-year-long constitutional right to abortion. On June 27, she signed an executive order aimed at protecting health care providers from discipline due to out-of-state residents receiving abortion services in New Mexico, and also makes clear the state will refuse to cooperate with extradition attempts from other states pursuing criminal charges against anyone receiving or performing reproductive services.
In addition to announcing the executive order, Commission Chair Lisa Curtis discussed a resolution members approved in August prioritizing keeping “women and women who identify as LGBTQ+ safe and legally protected in New Mexico by supporting policies and programs that protect and expand access to abortion care, and by opposing all policies or programs that seek to restrict or penalize access to safe abortion.” The resolution also lists protecting health care providers who provide reproductive health care and working to expand availability to reproductive health care across the state, “with a special emphasis on rural New Mexico.”
The executive orders and resolution, Lopez noted, “are complementary in making sure that abortion is an essential part of reproductive health care” and said she and other lawmakers will have more information going forward about “legislation coming up this coming session that will complement both your executive order as well as the resolution and making sure that those who are providing services and needing to access are protected.”
Ferrary added that she was “especially appreciative of the impact [the new order is] going to make for Southern New Mexico families where we’ve lacked access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care for years. And some of people have been waiting for months to receive basic reproductive health care.”
Lujan Grisham said the capital investment will require the state to work with a public fiscal agent and to determine where the clinic will be built, but said “it’s likely to be in the population center, which is somewhere in Las Cruces with access to other providers and close access to the hospital.” The goal, she said, is “is build it and they will come and, as you know some folks are already coming, and having up-to-date safe clinical space that is recognized and supported by the community.”
The governor concluded her remarks today by acknowledging the work being done by the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women, and by noting that protecting “women’s constitutional rights and protections” has now fallen to states with Democratic leadership. Abortion has become a central issue in Lujan Grisham’s re-election campaign, as it has throughout the country. Her opponent, Republican Mark Ronchetti, describes himself as “pro-life,” and accuses Lujan Grisham on his website of taking extremist positions on the issue and making New Mexico “the late-term abortion capital of America.”
Lujan Grisham today took aim at other states that limiting and eliminating access to abortion and “then prosecuting individuals who are standing up services and saving women’s lives.” Both Texas and Oklahoma have banned abortion; the national Center for Reproductive Rights characterizes Arizona as “hostile” as it has enacted a 15-week ban that goes into effect in September and the state has enjoined a pre-Roe ban as well. “I don’t think we hit that point enough,” she said. “The work that we are doing saves women’s lives and their families. And the notion that women cannot have control over their bodies, dignity, respect and autonomy is outrageous. And this is a state that is not going to let that be the status quo in any context for anyone anywhere in the country.”