Albuquerque Rejects 20-Week Abortion Ban

Albuquerque residents rejected what would have been the first citywide restriction on abortion Tuesday, voting down a ballot proposition to ban abortions after 20 weeks without exceptions for rape and incest. While the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance was only a local proposition, it would have had significant statewide and national implications due to the concentration of abortion providers in the city. That’s part of why anti-abortion forces chose to push the measure in Albuquerque, and why the pro-choice movement saw such high stakes in the vote.

"Albuquerque families sent a powerful message today—they do not want the government interfering in their private medical decisions," Micaela Cadena of the Respect ABQ Women campaign said in a statement. "Dangerous, unconstitutional laws like the one we rejected today have no place in Albuquerque, no place in New Mexico, no place anywhere in our nation."

Every clinic in New Mexico that provides abortions after 20 weeks is located in Albuquerque, as are two of the only four doctors in the country who perform late-term abortions. As such, the local ordinance would have had limited abortion at the state and national levels had voters approved it.

“We are NOT discouraged or sad: we put in amazing work, and changed the hearts and minds of many!,” wrote Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, a group that lobbied hard for the proposition, on its Facebook page Tuesday night. “But our hearts break for the babies who will be murdered in [Albuquerque] tomorrow, and their mothers who will be lied to and surgically butchered.”

As Bustle reported yesterday, the proposition would have had nationwide implications:

There’s little wonder why the measure has attracted such attention. Sunsara Taylor, a writer and initiator with Stop Patriarchy, tells Bustle the proposal stands atop a slippery slope when it comes to abortion rights. “This 20-week restriction is really not just a local issue,” Taylor says. “It’s not really just about restricting late term abortions. It’s a part of a national strategy of anti-abortion forces to step-by-step end all abortion for all women in all circumstance.”

“A lot of birth defects don’t show up until 20 weeks. [Women] develop complications later in their own health. A lot of women who are very young or impoverished have trouble getting the resources together earlier. And frankly, a lot of women are in denial, or miseducated about their bodies,” Taylor continues. “They’re scared, and they don’t confront the fact that they’re pregnant until it’s late. And so the women who are the most desperate, and who need late abortions — which is a very small, but very important percentage of women — they travel from across the country to go to Albuquerque.”