ALBUQUERQUE – New Mexico’s governor on Wednesday signed a new executive order that pledges $10 million to build a clinic that would provide abortions and other pregnancy care.
“The goal here is build it and they will come,” Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham said after signing the order during a virtual announcement that included members of the state’s Commission on the Status of Women and several legislators.
The governor noted that New Mexico already has seen an influx of patients after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade as abortions have ceased in neighboring Texas and elsewhere.
Lujan Grisham, who is running for re-election against Republican Mark Ronchetti, signed her first executive order on the matter in late June. It was aimed at ensuring safe harbor to people seeking abortions or providing abortions at health care facilities within the state.
The latest order reiterates her commitments to protecting access in addition to directing state agencies to leverage their resources to expand access to reproductive health care – including abortion – in underserved areas of the state. The order also calls for the state Department of Health to review the feasibility of providing medication abortions at its public health clinics.
Ronchetti on Wednesday said state money shouldn’t be spent on a clinic where late-term abortions would be available for people who come from out of state. He has proposed limiting abortion to the first 15 weeks, or in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk.
“Using taxpayer dollars to enable and fund abortion up until the point of birth is not only out of line with New Mexican values, it is extreme,” he said in a statement.
The Democratic-led Legislature will hash out the next state budget, including capital investments, when it meets in January.
As for the one-time proposed infusion of $10 million for a new clinic in the Las Cruces area, Lujan Grisham said she envisions a partnership with medical schools and private providers, such as the Mississippi clinic at the center of the Roe court battle that relocated to southern New Mexico in early August.
One of the largest abortion providers in Texas, Austin-based Whole Woman’s Health, also still has plans to move some of its operations to New Mexico and states in the southeastern U.S.
The Commission on the Status of Women in a resolution read Wednesday made clear its focus on protecting access to abortions, protecting health care providers and expanding access to what the panel called a full spectrum of pregnancy care – which includes abortions as well as post-birth care.
Commission Chairwoman Lisa Curtis said there needs to be a special emphasis on underserved areas across the rural state and investment in programs that will develop a pipeline of trained health care providers.
New Mexico lawmakers last year repealed a dormant 1969 statute that outlawed most abortion procedures as felonies, thus ensuring access to abortion after the Supreme Court’s action. Some Democratic lawmakers said Wednesday that they will push for measures during the next legislative session to further enshrine access and protections in state law.
The governor said the work being done by her allies in the Legislature and advocacy groups is saving women’s lives.
“The notion that women cannot have control over their bodies, dignity, respect and autonomy is outrageous,” Lujan Grisham said. “This is a state that is not going to let that be the status quo.”