New Mexico Court Considers Local Pro-life Laws

An upcoming decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court could decide the fate of several holdout parts of the state with local pro-life ordinances, The Guardian reported.

The initial suit was brought by state Attorney General Raúl Torrez, who is challenging the anti-abortion ordinances in Lea and Roosevelt counties and the cities of Hobbs and Clovis.

Torrez said the statutes exceed the authority of local governments to regulate healthcare access and violate the New Mexico Constitution’s protections of a woman’s right to bodily autonomy.

However, defendants say the 1873 Comstock Act — a federal bill preventing anything considered immoral from being sent in the mail — supersedes state law and is now relevant since Roe v. Wade was overturned last year.

Although dormant for quite some time, defenders say the Comstock law should call into question the distribution of abortion pills and the equipment necessary for clinics to perform medical abortions.

“These ordinances — they don’t explicitly outlaw abortion. They’re de facto abortion bans. They’re simply requiring compliance with federal statutes,” said pro-life activist Mark Lee Dickson.

“People are leaning upon them [the statutes] because that is the strongest argument that exists in terms of the federal law, that can be used to see abortion come to an end in every state in America,” he added.

According to The Hill, many of the questions from the justices in a Wednesday hearing surrounded whether federal or state law should be enforced.

“The Supreme Court should nullify the ordinances at issue in this case and prohibit their enforcement, not only because they are preempted by state law but because they constitute a form of gender based discrimination and are unconstitutional,” Torrez stated after the hearing.

New Mexico is not the only state where older laws are being considered by courts on if they are relevant to abortion debates today.

The Arizona Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday about an 1864 abortion ban made before Arizona was even a state, and whether it has since been limited or superseded.

Luca Cacciatore |

Luca Cacciatore, a Newsmax general assignment writer, is based in Arlington, Virginia, reporting on news and politics. 

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