New Mexico Late-Term Abortion Bill Sparks Some First Amendment Concerns

William Davis | Contributor

New Mexico has become the latest battleground in the increasingly heated debate over abortion.

House Bill 51, a piece of legislation intended to remove the state’s remaining abortion restrictions, passed the state House 40-29 last week, with six Democrats joining all Republicans in opposition. The bill removes a “conscience” clause in state law that protects doctors and practitioners right to refuse to perform an abortion if they have a moral or religious objection to the procedure, something that many believe infringes on the First Amendment. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Trump Rips Virginia Democrats’ Abortion Comments)

“(The bill) compels doctors, nurses, hospitals to perform abortion,” Republican State Rep. Rod Montoya told The Daily Caller. “We believe this bill if it passes will be challenged.”

The legislation, which is expected to be taken up in the state Senate this week, is similar to the so-called Reproductive Health Act recently enacted in New York and the “Repeal Act” being considered in Virginia. As late-term abortion bills continue to pop up across the country, some legislators see a power-play from the abortion lobby.

“It’s an opportunity with Kavanaugh and the debate that took place to continue that agenda item,” Republican State Rep. Cathrynn Brown told The Daily Caller. “This is a push by all the usual suspects, which is Planned Parenthood and NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League). They’re seizing the opportunity to push abortion up until the day of birth.”

New Mexico has been scrutinized for its liberal late-term abortion laws. An Albuquerque clinic was sued last year after a 23-year old woman died while seeking an “elective 24-week abortion.” Southwestern Women’s Options — the clinic in question — offers elective abortion up until 32 weeks of the pregnancy.

“(The bill) continues the practice of late term abortion in New Mexico,” Montoya said. “The abortion industry is not regulated at all in New Mexico.”

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has pledged to sign the bill if it reaches her desk.

Polling shows that 75 percent of Americans oppose late-term abortion and support restrictions on the procedure.

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