Bill preventing public bodies from interfering in reproductive and gender-affirming care advances
A bill that would prevent public bodies like city councils restricting access to reproductive or gender-affirming healthcare is moving forward after a House Health and Human Services Committee hearing today.
House Bill 7 was written after city and county ordinances in Eastern New Mexico restricted access to abortion, even though the procedure remains legal in the state.
"It's extremely important that, especially in reproductive health care and gender affirming health care, that people know that they have a right and they are able to access it," bill sponsor Rep. Linda Serrato, D-Santa Fe, told KUNM. "We do not want to put up more stigmas or fears around accessing these types of health care that are truly life saving health care."
Republican representatives on the committee said that their constituents had many concerns about the bill, questioning what impact it would have on teachers, nurses and even firefighters, all of whom are part of public bodies.
Ellie Rushforth, a lawyer at the ACLU, said the law does not create any duty to provide care. Rather it ensures public bodies are not able to get in the way of somebody accessing legally protected health care.
She said the bill clarifies that educational institutions, for instance, aren't allowed to discriminate against a student as a result of their seeking such healthcare.
The bill passed on a 7-3 vote, along party lines, and now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.