HB 51 Decriminalize Abortion

Why NM Legislators Should Vote for HB 51

HB 51: Decriminalize Abortion

Summary:  HB51 would repeal a 1969 NM statute that makes it a 4th-degree felony for physicians to perform an abortion except in cases of rape, incest or likely birth defects, or to protect the life of the mother. The Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade in 1973 made it unenforceable, but with the current conservative majority on the Supreme Court, Roe v Wade could be gutted. To protect New Mexico women’s right to choose, repealing this outdated legislation is a high priority.

History:  Rep. Joanne Ferrary introduced the bill in 2017, but it never got out of committee. In 2018, Gov. Martinez refused to allow the bill to be introduced. Activists anticipate the usual opposition from pro-life advocates, but support for the bill is bolstered by a poll conducted in January 2017: of 1,700 New Mexican rural county residents polled, 77% said they trust women to make abortion decisions for themselves.

Why This Bill Is Good for NM

  • Respects NM women’s right to choose to make this personal decision for themselves;
  • Removes intrusive and unnecessary government interference in the lives of NM citizens;
  • Prevents discrimination by people of some religions against people with different religious beliefs by forcing them to have unwanted children, a matter of religious freedom enshrined in the US Constitution;
  • Reduces maternal mortality rate (more women die from childbirth than from abortion);
  • Supported by 77% of New Mexicans polled.

Below are some of the concerns raised by pro-life advocates in testimony on Sat., Jan. 26 before the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee, and our responses to those concerns.

Claim: HB 51 will legalize all kinds of abortion procedures in NM.
Response: HB 51 doesn't introduce or authorize new abortion procedures, it simply protects those already in practice.

Claim: HB 51 is unnecessary as Roe v Wade protects a woman's right to an abortion.
Response: HB 51 is a critical bill because if the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision is overturned, New Mexico's 1969 abortion criminalization bill would be operative, and then only in the most limited instances could a woman access an abortion procedure.

Claim: Abortion is a risky procedure that endangers women's lives.
Response: A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures for women in the United States. Fewer than 0.05% of women obtaining abortions experience a complication.

Supporting Organizations

  • Planned Parenthood
  • ACLU
  • Respect NM Women

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