Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham discusses why she issued an executive order protecting abortion providers and out of state patients in New Mexico. (Photo by Shaun Griswold / Source NM)
New Mexico will now offer greater protections for health care providers offering abortion care and to the individuals who need the services, even if they are from out of state.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order on Monday expanding protections for frontline abortion services and explained any further action by state leaders will come in January, dismissing the need for calling lawmakers back to Santa Fe for a special session on abortion rights.
“I’m certainly going to defer to the policymaker in the room. But I would say because abortion is legal in the state of New Mexico, we don’t need to do something before the 60-day session,” Lujan Grisham said. “But we’re going to have to wait and see what other surprises are potentially in store from the Supreme Court.”
As for the policymakers in the room, Sen. Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque) said proposals such as a ban on abortions after 15-weeks are a “non starter” with the state Legislature. The proposal was presented last week by GOP gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti, who said the idea was a compromise with Democratic lawmakers who are expected to maintain a majority in the legislative branch.
Lopez said she does want to continue conversations with other lawmakers and advocacy groups to determine “meaningful legislation” that could enhance or protect abortion care in New Mexico.
Lujan Grisham did not shy away from what she expects the state to do going forward and said her executive order is a statement to other states that New Mexico will not cooperate with bans in places like Texas or Arizona.
“It means we will not cooperate for any criminalization or attempt at removing a license or holding accountable a provider here, who might be under a national license or regional license,” she said. “I will not be executing — if there were any — any warrants for extradition for any provider related to this issue.”
The stance not to extradite people or involve N.M. resources in possible criminal prosecutions in states where abortion is illegal or highly restricted is preventative at the moment.
According to multiple organizations that support abortion care in the state, there has not been any type of subpoena or direct action from another state seeking prosecution against providers in New Mexico.
The Governor’s Office affirmed the same and said they will work with local sheriffs who might receive any request for information. Extraditions are requested between each state’s governor’s office, so any type of request would go directly to Lujan Grisham’s office.
Jessica Serrano with the Southwest Women’s Law Center, an organization that works with providers and patients, praised the governor’s order and said it’s the first step to offering protections.
“It’s nice to know that if you’re a provider here in New Mexico, that you won’t be extradited and that you won’t lose your license,” Serrano said. “This is a good first step, but hopefully (Lujan Grisham) won’t stop here, and hopefully our legislators, when they need backup in January, we’ll do more efforts to protect providers.”
The executive order does protect providers but can offer protections for people from out of state that can make the decision to stay in New Mexico if they face criminal penalties in their home state, according to the Governor’s Office.
“Given what Texas is signaling and Oklahoma is signaling, with the all-out bans and the trigger laws all moving forward, I think that you will see a coalition of states that really work to shut off access everywhere,” Lujan Grisham said.
She cited the state constitution as why codifying abortion protections similar to Roe in New Mexico is not needed immediately. But she did note that legislators could bring it up, which would trigger a need for more money for providers, including those that accept Medicaid
“I am sure you will see additional public health funding to make sure that we are engaging in provider access and support,” she said. “I would expect that we’ll see that in the Legislature.”
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