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After Roe, New Mexico could see influx at abortion facilities

Protesters gathered in Albuquerque on May 3 after a leaked draft opinion indicated the Supreme Court was likely to reverse the constitutional right to abortion access
Liberation News via Facebook
Protesters gathered in Albuquerque on May 3 after a leaked draft opinion indicated the Supreme Court was likely to reverse the constitutional right to abortion access

The Supreme Court ruling reversing Roe v. Wade and eliminating constitutional rights to abortion could have a profound effect on New Mexico.

Clinics here are already stretched, especially since Texas banned abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy last year, but with several neighboring states now set to all but completely ban the procedure, more people are likely to travel to New Mexico for abortion care.

"We're going to have shortages of appointments of providers, because of the influx we'll see," said Planned Parenthood's Rocky Mountains medical director Kristina Tocce in an interview with KUNM earlier this year.

"Any abortion provider who is practicing at this time is working longer and harder to make as much access available as as possible."

Arizona has a law in effect banning abortion, dating from 1864. Its enforcement was blocked by Roe v. Wade, but it could be enforced again now. Texas and Oklahoma have already passed laws which may now come into effect, nearly entirely banning the procedure. Utah has also passed a so-called 'trigger law'.

New Mexico last year repealed language from the criminal code dating from 1969, which banned abortion. It was not enforceable after the Roe v. Wade verdict in 1973, but could theoretically have been enforced after Roe was struck down. So abortion here is expected to remain legal, and if other states restrict the procedure as seems likely, more people will travel to New Mexico.

That will be difficult for the patients. Tocce said the people already coming from Texas for abortion care have to disrupt their lives to get there.

"In Albuquerque, I was just struck by the tremendous driving times, and patients just having to rearrange everything in their lives to accommodate — child care, elder care, pet care, their jobs.

"It's just heartbreaking stories."

And if the process is hard for the patients who do get to Albuquerque, she said, "there are so many patients that can't get to us."

Those patients could also include New Mexicans finding it harder to get care in their home state because of the influx. Already, many people travel within the state for abortion care. This includes many Native women. Indian Health Service hospitals provide abortion care only in very limited circumstances, restricted by the Hyde Amendment of 1976 which prevents federal funds being used for most abortions.

Additionally, the only options for procedural abortions (as opposed to an abortion where the patient takes pills) are in Albuquerque.

"Despite the favorable political landscape, broad network of providers, and rich supportive culture in New Mexico, actual access to abortion care outside of Bernalillo county has been difficult to access for years," said a statement from Bold Futures, an organization that works to build reproductive justice in New Mexico by and for women and people of color.

The statement said that the new reproductive health landscape would most affect, "people who lack financial resources and supports, Black, Indigenous, Latine, and queer women and people of color."

This coverage was made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

Alice Fordham joined the news team in 2022 after a career as an international correspondent, reporting for NPR from the Middle East and later Latin America and Europe. She also worked as a podcast producer for The Economist among other outlets, and tries to meld a love of sound and storytelling with solid reporting on the community. She grew up in the U.K. and has a small jar of Marmite in her kitchen for emergencies.