SANTA FE, NM (AP) — The Republican nominee for governor in New Mexico has proposed a statewide referendum that could place new limitations on access to abortion procedures, pitching the idea in a television ad Thursday.
Mark Ronchetti has advocated for a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for rape, incest and risk to the physical health of the mother. That’s in line with a proposal this week for a nationwide abortion ban from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
“I’ve made my position clear: end late-term abortion,” Ronchetti says in the ad, seated on a sofa alongside wife Krysty Ronchetti. “Put it on a statewide ballot so everyone gets a say.”
Referendums in New Mexico are limited to proposed state constitutional amendments that can be scheduled by the Legislature, with or without the governor’s consent.
New Mexico state law ensures access to abortion with few restrictions even after the US Supreme Court rolled back guaranteed access in a June decision.
Incumbent Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham voiced immediate opposition to her opponent’s referendum proposal.
The governor has cast herself as a staunch defender of access to abortion, signing an executive order in August that pledges $10 million to build a clinic that would provide abortion and other pregnancy care.
In a statement, Lujan Grisham spokesperson Delaney Corcoran said the governor “will oppose any attempt to undo New Mexico’s progress in protecting abortion rights. She stands against Mark Ronchetti’s clear attempt to ban abortion through a constitutional amendment.”
In 2021, Lujan Grisham and state legislators repealed a dormant 1969 statute that outlawed most abortion procedures as felonies.
Albuquerque is home to one of only a few independent clinics in the country that perform abortions in the third trimester without conditions.
Under current state law, New Mexico can expect to continue to see a steady influx of people seeking abortions from neighboring states with more restrictive abortion laws. It already hosts patients from Texas and Oklahoma, where some of the strictest abortion bans in the country were introduced this year.
Ronchetti and Lujan Grisham have cast each other as extremists on abortion policy. Anti-abortion activist Karen Bedonie is also running for governor as the Libertarian Party nominee.