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Senate rejects repeal of unenforceable abortion law

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By Andrew Oxford
The New Mexican

An old, unenforceable New Mexico law that makes it a crime to perform an abortion will stay on the books.

The Senate on Thursday voted down legislation that would have repealed the 50-year-old statute, spurning calls from advocates and newly elected Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to protect abortion rights at the state level amid fear that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade could be overturned or undermined.

Eight Democrats joined all 16 Republicans in voting to retain the anti-abortion law. While the 24-18 vote does not change anything about existing law, it was still a political victory for advocates of restricting abortion.

It also demonstrated how divided Senate Democrats are on the issue and suggests the Legislature is likely to remain at an impasse when it comes to abortion laws, at least for the short term.

Sen. Linda Lopez, a Democrat from Albuquerque carrying House Bill 51, argued the measure only safeguards rights that already exist under the law.

"This bill is about health care access for women," Lopez told the Senate.


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