New Mexico bishop opposes abortion legalization bill

Credit: Falcona/Shutterstock.
Credit: Falcona/Shutterstock.

.- Proposed legislation in New Mexico would repeal the state’s laws criminalizing abortion, which date to the 1960s but have not been enforced since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.

Bishop James Wall of the Diocese of Gallup has expressed strong opposition to House Bill 51.

“While the law is currently not enforced due to federal legalization of abortion through the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade, I nevertheless urge opposition to any bills that would loosen abortion restrictions,” Wall wrote in a Jan. 7 statement.

New Mexico law currently states it is a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion, with exceptions for rape, birth defects, and to preserve the health of the mother.

Under the current law, abortion would be banned completely if Roe v. Wade were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The effort to decriminalize abortion is part of a broader push in states that have laws banning the procedure, such as Massachusetts, which repealed its law in July 2018. Those who are in favor of abortion rights are moving to remove laws that would go into effect if abortion were once again left to the states to decide.

“Should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned...I am in agreement that criminalization of abortion should not target women, many of whom find themselves in personally or financially dire circumstances,” Wall clarified.

“But abortion also targets and victimizes another deeply vulnerable population: unborn children and future generations. Our state must strive to protect and uphold the dignity of all peoples, from conception to natural death, and any effort to permit the killing of unborn children violates the sanctity of every human person, mother and child.”

Rep. Joanne Ferrary (D-Las Cruces) introduced the bill, along with Georgene Louis (D-Acoma). The proposed bill is supported by the state’s new Democratic governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, as well as the state’s House Speaker and Senate majority leader. The legislative leaders have tabbed the bill as a “high priority” for the current legislative session, and Lujan Grisham has pledged to sign the bill into law if it passes the legislature.

Wall encouraged New Mexico’s lawmakers to focus on policies and legislation to “promote the prosperity of human life at all stages of development” rather than promoting abortion.

“New Mexico consistently ranks low or last among other states in education results, economic opportunities, poverty, and childhood health. An abortion will not fix the obstacles many women and families face, such as economic instability, access to education, and a higher standard of living,” Wall wrote.  

He also expressed opposition to any potential measures or clauses that might force doctors to participate in abortion procedures in violation of their beliefs.

Nine states including New Mexico currently have laws that would ban abortion. Four additional states – Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota – have what are known as “trigger laws” that would ban abortion if the Roe decision were overturned.

Efforts are underway to expand access to abortion in several states, including New York, where a bill to decriminalize abortion has strong support from a newly installed Democratic majority in its legislature.

Tags: Abortion, Catholic News, New Mexico