A proposed New Mexico bill seeks to destroy religious liberty in order to expand abortion. The New Mexico Alliance for Life (NMAFL) says that SB 282, sponsored by state senators, Gerald Ortiz y Pino and Mimi Stewart, would “force Christians to refer for abortions and force religiously-affiliated hospitals to perform abortions.” All of this comes at the hands of a proclaimed Catholic senator, Ortiz y Pino, who introduced the bill. According to NMAFL Executive Director Elisa Martinez:
State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino’s pro-abortion extremism is now out in the open. It was bad enough when Senator Ortiz y Pino used his Catholic faith to justify abortion until the day of birth. Now he wants to force health care providers, including those of his own Catholic faith, to violate their consciences by participating in abortion.
Joining Martinez in condemning the actions of the state senator was his colleague, State Senator Bill Sharer, who said:
The only reason we still have abortion today in New Mexico is because “Catholic” Democrat legislators support it and because Catholic leaders are silent. Senate bill 282 will require Catholic healthcare providers to commit mortal sins, which should horrify anyone of good conscience.
Sharer is a Republican and practicing Catholic, according to NMAFL. Further, NMAFL says:
If signed into law, SB 282 will repeal New Mexico state exemptions for persons and institutions with “moral or religious” objections to abortion. The bill states, “notwithstanding the provisions of any other state law, a hospital shall not refuse to provide a reproductive health service to a patient if withholding the reproductive health service would result in or prolong a serious risk to the patient’s life or health; and where a failure to provide the reproductive health service would violate the medical standard of care owed the patient.”
Dubbed a “patient protection” act, the text of the bill itself holds disturbing suggestions of violations of religious freedom. In part, it notes that:
“[A] hospital shall not: (1) refuse to provide a reproductive health service to a patient if withholding the reproductive health service would result in or prolong a serious risk to the patient’s life or health.”
It further defines reproductive health care services as “contraception; termination of pregnancy; treatment of ectopic pregnancy; miscarriage management; assisted reproductive technology, including infertility treatment; screening and treatment of sexually transmitted infections and services related to human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome; pregnancy and post-natal care; and sterilization.”
It is clear that the required provisions of this bill would violate the doctrine of the Catholic church and the limitations that Catholic hospitals have. As private facilities, these hospitals have historically been allowed to maintain standards in keeping with their faith, due to the constitutional right to religious freedom. This is also currently a freedom guaranteed by New Mexico statute 30-5-2, NMAFL’s Martinez notes, saying it “protects hospitals and individuals from participating in abortion if they have a moral or religious objection.” But she adds:
SB 282 is actually double attack – it forces pro-life medical professionals to participate in abortion, and its definitions of ‘standard of care’ and health of the mother are so broad so as to have no meaningful limitations.
NMAFL adds: “In addition to violating the First Amendment’s right to religious freedom from government coercion, SB 282 violates the Weldon Amendment, according to Martinez and Sharer. The Amendment is a federal law that protects health care providers from being forced to provide abortions.”
Martinez notes that SB 282 “will force half or more of the health care professionals [in New Mexico] to leave their practice or lose their license for violating state law.” She also believes Ortiz y Pino is misleading his fellow legislators because the bill “does not refer to the exemption statute at all, meaning that even pro-life legislators could vote for this life-ending bill without knowing they are repealing the basic constitutional right to religious liberty.”