By Andrew Hay
(Reuters) – New Mexico towns would be prohibited from restricting access to abortion under legislation proposed on Friday by Democratic lawmakers in a state where the procedure remains legal after Roe v. Wade was struck down.
The move comes after a New Mexico town near the Texas border passed an ordinance designed to ban abortions as part of a national push by anti-abortion activists into democratic-controlled states.
Under the draft legislation, local governments would be prevented from overriding state laws guaranteeing women’s rights to reproductive health care.
Another democratic initiative presented ahead of next week’s state legislative session would build on existing protections for doctors who perform abortions and for patients against harassment and investigation by out-of-state entities.
New Mexico is the only state bordering Texas where abortion remains legal and its largest cities of Las Cruces and Albuquerque have become regional destinations for women seeking the procedure.
The conservative towns of Clovis and Hobbs near the state’s eastern border with Texas have been targeted by anti-abortion activists since the US Supreme Court in June ended the nationwide constitutional right to the procedure.
Neither community has an abortion clinic but are places where providers could locate to serve patients from Republican-controlled Texas, one of the first states to impose a near-total ban on abortion.
Hobbs in November passed a so-called “sanctuary city for the unborn” ordinance blocking abortion clinics from operating, marking a first for a New Mexico town according to activists.
Friday’s democratic initiatives were a direct response, lawmakers said.
The proposed Reproductive Health Care Freedom Act “prohibits public bodies, including local municipalities, from denying, restricting or discriminating against an individual’s right to use or refuse reproductive health care,” according to a statement.
“We want to make sure that people feel protected and that they will be able to access the health care they need,” Representative Linda Serrato said in the release.
(Reporting By Andrew Hay; Editing By Tom Hogue)