Computer tablet displaying the word "Abortion" with a stethoscope draped over the corner

Why California is getting involved in a New Mexico abortion fight

© iStock - Zerbor
Ria Roebuck Joseph

(The Center Square) - California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced March 3 that he joined a coalition of attorney generals in support of New Mexico’s AG Raul Torrez, who took action against two  New Mexico counties and two cities whose communities passed ordinances to restrict abortion clinics.

Bonta, along with attorneys general from Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, and New York released a joint statement which read in part, “Since the reversal of Roe v. Wade, New Mexico has become a safe haven for people from neighboring states that have banned or restricted abortion. Localities trying to independently ban abortion are jeopardizing the health and wellbeing of millions. As states that recognize the fundamental right to reproductive health care, we support New Mexico’s efforts to safeguard abortion access in every community and locality within its borders. It is critical that New Mexico continue to ensure abortion is protected across the state so it can remain a safe haven for all those in need of care.”

Attorney General Raul Torrez filed an extraordinary writ in the New Mexico seeking to nullify ordinances passed by 4 localities. Torrez’s Writ of Mandamus asks the Supreme Court of New Mexico to strike down the ordinances and prohibit the local governments from engaging in unconstitutional behavior. The petition to the court also made a “Request for Stay.”

“Today’s action should send a strong message that my Office will use every available tool to swiftly and decisively uphold individual liberties against unconstitutional overreach,” Torrez said.

“We applaud the State of New Mexico for taking swift action to push back against localities attempting to cut off access to abortion,” Attorney General Bonta said in the joint statement issued by the coalition.

In a released statement AG Torrez said the counties and cities in southeastern New Mexico relied on a flawed interpretation of a 19th century federal statute which regulates interstate trade or abortion medication which they used to pass ordinances seeking to restrict abortion access. His formal action will nullify the enacted ordinances as local government overreach to regulate New Mexico’s healthcare access which guarantees “equal protection and due process of a woman’s inalienable right to bodily autonomy” under New Mexico’s Constitution.

“Women in every corner of New Mexico should rest assured that we will push back against any attempt to infringe on their inalienable right to make the most personal decision about their lives, their health and their families,” Torrez said.

All four territories named in Torrez’s filing border Texas and are strongly conservative with small populations, the largest Lea County with a population just under 64,000 according to the 2010 census count.

“This is not Texas. Our State Constitution does not allow cities, counties or private citizens to restrict women’s reproductive rights,” said Attorney General Torrez. “Today’s action should send a strong message that my Office will use every available tool to swiftly and decisively uphold individual liberties against unconstitutional overreach.”

“The contrary conclusion reached by the United States Supreme Court  in Dobbs (vs Jackson) should be rejected both because of the broader rights to equality, liberty and privacy in the New Mexico Constitution that serve as distinctive state characteristics and because the analysis in Dobbs if lawed for the reasons outlined in the dissenting opinion,” the writ stated.

Abortions can be performed at any stage of pregnancy in New Mexico.