Judge halts efforts by city of Eunice to sue the state over abortion access

By: - June 1, 2023 4:10 am

A screenshot from the press conference in which activist Mark Lee Dickson joined local officials from Eunice.(Courtesy Photo)

A judge has stayed a lawsuit filed by the city of Eunice, after the city tried to sue the state over a law related to access to reproductive and transgender healthcare.

In a hearing Tuesday, Judge Lee A. Kirksey of the Fifth Judicial District Court granted the state’s request to stay a lawsuit filed by the city of Eunice in April.

In that lawsuit, the small city sued Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Raúl Torrez. It sought to overturn a new state law prohibiting municipalities from restricting an individual’s right to access reproductive healthcare. In the suit, the city cites a 19th century federal law known as the Comstock Act, which restricts abortion but has been largely dormant for decades.

Attorney General Torrez then filed a motion in May asking the district court to refrain from acting on Eunice’s lawsuit until the state supreme court rules on a case the attorney-general previously filed against several communities in eastern New Mexico who sought to restrict access to abortion care, also citing the Comstock Act.

The attorney general’s motion was granted, and Eunice’s lawsuit will not proceed for now. The Supreme Court has stayed all the other local ordinances and will consider their legality in a hearing that is yet to be scheduled.

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Alice Fordham, KUNM
Alice Fordham, KUNM

Alice Fordham joined the news team in 2022 after a career as an international correspondent, reporting for NPR from the Middle East and later Latin America and Europe. She also worked as a podcast producer for The Economist among other outlets, and tries to meld a love of sound and storytelling with solid reporting on the community. She grew up in the U.K. and has a small jar of Marmite in her kitchen for emergencies.