New Mexico lawmakers in the House of Representatives advanced HB 7 February 21, a bill one pro-life organization is calling “the most radical health care bill in the nation.”
Titled the “Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Healthcare Act,” HB 7 would prohibit all public employees, including those working for cities and public schools, to interfere with abortion access or “gender-affirming care.” It would also prohibit cities and towns from creating measures that would limit abortion within their jurisdictions. The measure seems, in part, to be in response to the number of “sanctuary cities for the unborn” that have launched across the state.
Rep. Linda Serrato sponsored the bill. “As a parent and as a state lawmaker, I want to make sure all New Mexicans can receive the care they need, without fear of persecution or prosecution,” Serrato said. “The Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Freedom Act will help New Mexico continue to live up to our core values of respect, understanding, and community.”
“It simply prohibits public bodies from discriminating against individuals who choose or refuse to use reproductive or gender-affirming health care, including abortion care,” she also said.
KUNM reports that many Republicans were concerned with the broad scope of the bill, including the fear that it could result in minors obtaining abortion access without their parents’ knowledge. They tried to pass four amendments, including one to ensure that the measure would only apply to adults, but they failed to pass.
“The wording is so broad,” Rep. Jenifer Jones said. “I’ve had overwhelming response from my constituents against the bill.”
Jodie Hendricks, executive director of the New Mexico Family Action Movement, also spoke against the bill, noting that as written, it may eliminate conscience protections for those who object to abortion, and that it would take away the right of local jurisdictions to make their own laws regarding abortion. “We do not believe that local governments and bodies should lose the right to determine what’s best with their communities,” she said.
New Mexico Alliance for Life is calling the bill the “most radical health care bill in the nation.” The group has launched a petition for those who wish to voice their opposition.
The bill passed the House with a vote of 38-31 after a three-hour debate, and six Democrats sided with all 25 Republicans in voting against the measure. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.
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