New Mexico is asking the court to lift cities’ abortion bans

TAOS, NM, Jan 23 (Reuters) – New Mexico’s top prosecutor on Monday asked the state’s highest court to overturn abortion bans imposed by conservative local governments in the Democrat-led state, where the trial followed the crackdown by Roe v. Wade remains legal.

The move comes after the cities of Hobbs, Clovis and two surrounding counties bordering Texas passed ordinances in recent months to limit abortion clinics and access to abortion pills.

New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez filed an extraordinary injunction in the New Mexico Supreme Court to block the regulations, which he said were based on erroneous interpretations of 19th-century federal regulations on abortion drugs.

“This isn’t Texas. Our state constitution does not allow any city, county or individual to restrict women’s reproductive rights,” Torrez said in a statement.

Right-to-life activists said the regulations under federal law remain in effect and vowed to work to bring such regulations to more cities in New Mexico, the only state bordering Texas where abortion remains legal.

New Mexico’s largest cities, Las Cruces and Albuquerque, have become regional destinations for women seeking an abortion since the US Supreme Court ended the state’s constitutional right to the procedure in June.

Located on the eastern plains of New Mexico, Clovis and Hobbs has no abortion clinics but approved ordinances to prevent providers from settling there to care for patients from Republican-controlled Texas, one of the first states to have a near-full ban on abortion.

In direct response, New Mexico Democrats have drafted legislation to prevent cities from overriding state laws guaranteeing women’s right to reproductive health care. The law is scheduled to be debated this month and has a good chance of passing the Democrat-controlled state legislature.

The small community of Eunice became the third New Mexico city to pass an ordinance Monday, according to anti-abortion activist Mark Lee Dickson.

“Cities and counties across the state continue to have a strong reputation for making ordinances,” said Dickson, director of Right To Life East Texas, adding that the ordinances have never been overturned by the US Congress or by the US Supreme Court for have been declared invalid.

Reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Additional reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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