Governor signs health care act into law

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Mar. 18—SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday morning signed into law House Bill 7, the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Act. The action may nullify ordinances passed by the Clovis city commission and Roosevelt County Commission designed to discourage abortion in those communities.

The law prohibits public bodies from denying, restricting, or discriminating against an individual's right to use or refuse reproductive health care or health care related to gender.

All five of the state legislators who represent Curry and Roosevelt counties, all Republicans, opposed HB 7 in floor votes in the state House of Representatives and state Senate, but the bill passed both legislative houses, which have Democratic majorities.

Sen. Pat Woods, whose District 7 includes parts of Curry, Quay and Union counties, accepted the signing, saying the governor fulfilled her election promise.

"That's what that whole group in the last election ran on," he said, "to make abortions free to everyone. That's the power of the majority."

"As much as I don't like the taking of human life in this way, others don't agree," Woods said. "I personally feel there is a better way to control population, a better way to keep morality safe and a better way to control pregnancy than abortion."

In a news release announcing HB 7's signing, Lujan Grisham stated, "New Mexicans in every corner of our state deserve protections for their bodily autonomy and right to health care."

HB 7 was sponsored by Rep. Linda Serrato, Rep. Charlotte Little, Rep. Kristina Ortez, House Majority Whip Rep. Reena Szczepanski, and Rep. Janelle Anyanonu.

"My family and I know firsthand how it feels for a birth plan to become a lifesaving surgery in an instant. House Bill 7 removes unnecessary barriers and protects access to essential health care," Serrato said.

"I am heartened that my daughters are growing up in a state ... where we respect the complex decisions made by a person with their doctor."

Little stated in the news release that HB 7 "will ensure that all New Mexicans can get the care they need to live healthy, happy lives."

Said Ortez: "New Mexicans should be free to make their own deeply personal health care decisions in consultation with their families and their providers, without unnecessary barriers or discrimination.

"Trans and nonbinary individuals deserve the support and care necessary to survive and thrive."

Neither city of Clovis nor Roosevelt County officials have conceded defeat on the issue.

In Roosevelt County, Commissioner Rodney Savage said their ordinance never attempted to stop a woman from having an abortion in the county.

"That's my understanding. Our ordinance is an ordinance to have abortion clinics abide by federal law," Savage said.

Savage said federal law says the mail or commercial carriers cannot be used to ship equipment or drugs used for abortions.

"House Bill 7 does not say New Mexico citizens have the right to violate federal law," Savage said. "It's a complicated situation that has to proceed through the courts."

How Roosevelt County will respond to the new state law, "is up to the whole commission," Savage said. "I don't know how the other commissioners feel on that. We have not discussed it," Savage said.

Clovis Mayor Mike Morris said he doubts anyone is surprised the governor signed the bill into law.

"In her reelection campaign she told us this was her intention," Morris said.

But Morris said he is shocked as to how far the Legislature took the matter.

"As a pro-life individual, I am grieved to see my state endorse abortion, which I believe is the taking of human life," Morris said. "By failing to include parental consent, they have statutorily left New Mexico parents out of extremely consequential family matters. I would've liked to see them support the family unit."

As to whether there are plans to rescind Clovis' anti-abortion business ordinance Morris said he will yield to legal counsel.

"The law is pretty clear," Morris said. "The (city) commission will need to listen carefully to the advice of our attorney."

City Attorney Jared Morris said Friday he had no comment.

Victoria Robledo of Clovis describes herself as a private citizen, one who has been to events in support of HB 7.

"I am very pleased with the passing of this bill," Robledo said. "We know that reproductive and gender affirming care is lifesaving care. Any ordinances or laws that drive away doctors isn't helping our healthcare crisis."

Robledo described the bill's passage as an "emotional moment" for her.