New Mexico Legislature moves to preserve abortion rights

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Democratic state Sen. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque, standing with a microphone, leads an effort to shore up abortion rights in New Mexico at the Statehouse in Santa Fe, N.M., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Female senators took the lead in presenting the Democratic-sponsored bill that would repeal a 1969 ban on most abortion procedures. The law has been dormant since 1973 when the nation's highest court issued the Roe v. Wade decision, overriding state laws that banned or severely restricted access to abortion procedures. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

SANTA FE, N.M. – A Democrat-led Legislature in New Mexico pushed forward Friday to ensure future access to abortions by voting to repeal a dormant ban on most abortion procedures, marking a defiant counterpoint to efforts in some conservative states.

House legislators voted to approve the repeal of the 1969 statute that has gone unenforced since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 1973 the right to an abortion. Left in place, the statute could go back into effect if the high court eventually overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham vowed Friday to sign the bill when it reaches her desk in the coming days.

Abortion bans have been proposed in at least 10 states with Republican-led Legislatures that could test where the current U.S. Supreme Court stands after the appointment of three conservative justices by former President Donald Trump.

In South Carolina, a federal judge on Friday suspended a new law approved just two days earlier that would ban most abortions.

New Mexico is a heavily Roman Catholic state where Democrats control every statewide office, the state Supreme Court and most congressional seats.

Its 52-year-old abortion statute allows medical termination of a pregnancy with permission of a specialized hospital board only in instances of incest, rape reported to police, grave medical risks to the woman and indications of grave medical defects in the fetus.

The law has been dormant since 1973, when the nation’s highest court issued the Roe v. Wade decision, overriding state laws that banned or severely restricted access to abortion procedures.