After Roe, New Mexico could see an influx into abortion centers

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The Supreme Court decision reverse Roe vs. Wade and eliminating constitutional abortion rights could have a profound effect on New Mexico.

Clinics here are already overcrowded, especially since Texas banned abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy last yearbut with several neighboring states now poised to completely ban the procedure, more people are likely to travel to New Mexico for abortion care.

“We’re going to have provider appointment shortages, because of the influx we’ll see,” Kristina Tocce, medical director of Planned Parenthood’s Rocky Mountains, said in an interview with KUNM earlier this year.

“Any abortion provider doing right now is working longer and harder to make as much access available as possible.”

Arizona has a law in effect prohibiting abortion, dating from 1864. Its application was blocked by Roe v. Wade, but it could be applied again now. Texas and Oklahoma have already passed laws which can now come into force, almost entirely prohibition of the procedure. Utah also passed a so-called “trigger law”.

New Mexico last year repealed text of the penal code dating from 1969, which prohibits abortion. It was not enforceable after the Roe v. Wade in 1973, but theoretically could have been enforced after Roe was struck down. It is therefore expected that abortion here will remain legal, and if other states restrict the procedure as seems likely, more people will travel to New Mexico.

It will be difficult for the patients. Tocce said people already coming from Texas for abortion care have to disrupt their lives to get there.

“In Albuquerque, I was struck by the huge drive times and the patients who just have to rearrange everything in their lives to fit in – child care, elder care, pet care, their jobs.

“These are just heartbreaking stories.”

And while the process is difficult for patients arriving in Albuquerque, she says, “there are so many patients who cannot reach us.”

Those patients could also include New Mexicans who are finding it harder to get care in their home country due to the influx. Already, many people are moving around the state for abortion care. This includes many aboriginal women. Indian Health Service hospitals only provide abortion care in very limited circumstances, restricted by the Hyde Amendment of 1976 which prevents federal funds from being used for most abortions.

Additionally, the only options for procedural abortions (as opposed to an abortion where the patient takes pills) are in Albuquerque.

“Despite the favorable political landscape, vast network of providers, and rich culture of support in New Mexico, real access to abortion care outside of Bernalillo County has been difficult to access for years, said a statement from Bold Futures, an organization that works to build reproductive justice in New Mexico by and for women and people of color.

The statement said the new reproductive health landscape would most affect “people who lack financial resources and support, Black, Indigenous, Latina and queer women and people of color.

This coverage was made possible by the WK Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

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