HB 51: A Perspective From Tewa Women United

There’s been a lot of discussion about this Legislative session about the “Decriminalizing Abortion Bill” or HB 51.  New Mexico has an antiquated statute on the books that was signed into law before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade in 1973. This statute criminalizes an abortion provider for ending a pregnancy, except in certain circumstances, such as rape, birth defects or threats to the birthing parents health.

While most of this outdated law is currently unenforceable, that could change if Roe v. Wade is overturned. HB 51 would protect personal decision making of New Mexican women and families and affirm that reproductive healthcare including abortion is NOT a crime.

HB 51 has now made its way through the New Mexico House of Representatives, receiving the body’s overall approval in a 40-29 floor vote after being confirmed by several committees. It is now headed for the Senate, where it will be the subject of further debate and another vote. Our communities need to come together to oppose any attempts to restrict our reproductive rights through legislation, regulation or Constitutional amendment.

Outdated and dangerously restrictive laws like the one still on the books in New Mexico take complex, personal decisions away from New Mexico women and families and restrict access to safe care. Reproductive rights are issues of life and death for women, not mere matters of choice. In order to fully support access to safe and legal abortion, we have to trust our New Mexico families to make choices about their reproductive health, and stand behind our abortion providers to treat their patients in the way that they deem safe, without disrupting medical standards of care.

Opponents believe that New Mexico has too few abortion restrictions as it is making it easy for women to end their pregnancies. The truth is, the decision to end a pregnancy is never easy. Every pregnancy is different and so are the circumstances that surround them.  As someone who works with our rural and Indigenous families who are currently pregnant and parenting, I can say that the decisions made are personal and are as varied as the families who make them.

I stand with 77% of our rural New Mexico families who believe, regardless of their faith, that the decision to have or not have a child rests with a woman and her family. We trust each other with so many things when it comes to our health and wellbeing, why not this?

If we are serious about upholding the beliefs and values of reproductive rights and justice, we must work to repeal this criminal statute and protect access to safe and legal abortion in New Mexico.

by Jessica Lujan
TWU Indigenous Women’s Health & Reproductive Justice Program Manager

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