Residents in the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico will vote on a ballot measure today that, if passed, would ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation without exceptions for the life and health of the mother or survivors of rape or incest.
The New Mexico state legislature has generally been able to block anti-choice legislation, but out-of-state anti-abortion activists were able to collect enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot, eliciting a special off-year election. “These efforts callously disregard the personal circumstances that surround a woman’s decision to end her pregnancy,” writes Respect ABQ Women, a group of allied women, families and organizations dedicated to protecting the decision to end a pregnancy and keeping it between women and their doctors. “The out-of-touch groups behind this ballot measure don’t care about women’s health or safety; their only goal is to judge our families and make it impossible for women to access safe and legal abortions.”
Only about one percent of abortions in the US take place after 20 weeks gestation, and women usually decide to have them because of fetal anomalies, a risk to their health or life, or other often difficult reasons.
This measure is particularly significant because both Texas and Arizona have strict regulations on abortion that force women from across the region to travel to New Mexico for reproductive health care. Albuquerque is the only city in the Southwest where women can terminate a pregnancy past 20 weeks gestation, but if this measure passes, many women would have to travel even further for reproductive health care. In addition, the measure is unique for going through a city legislature rather than through the state, and it could inspire other anti-abortion extremists in cities around the US to attempt the same strategy.