SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham moved Wednesday to buttress access to abortions in New Mexico, signing an executive order that pledges $10 million to build a state-funded clinic providing abortion and other services in Doña Ana County.
The governor’s executive order also directs the state Department of Health to marshal state resources to expand access to reproductive health — including abortion — in rural parts of the state and study whether medication that ends pregnancies can be provided in public health clinics.
“This is a state that will stand against any attempts to remove or eviscerate women’s constitutional rights,” Lujan Grisham said during a remote briefing with reporters, legislators and members of the state’s Commission on the Status of Women.
The move comes as New Mexico has seen an influx of patients from other states seeking abortion services — and with just over two months until Election Day.
The Democratic governor is locked in a hard-hitting reelection campaign against Republican Mark Ronchetti and abortion has emerged as a key issue in the race since the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
Lujan Grisham already issued a previous executive order aimed at shielding health care professionals targeted by lawsuits from losing their licenses or being disciplined for providing abortion services.
The June order also asserts the state will not comply with abortion-related arrest warrants or extradition requests from other states.
Republicans have criticized the order, saying it would exacerbate health care shortages and long waiting times in New Mexico.
But Democrats say the orders, which could be undone by a future governor, are essential as neighboring states like Texas have moved to ban abortion.
“Protecting those who need to access abortion care is so important,” said Senate Majority Whip Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, who took part in the Wednesday news conference and said she was working with other legislators to craft a bill complimenting the executive orders for the upcoming 60-day legislative session.
The governor’s infrastructure funding is typically folded into a larger capital outlay bill that’s voted on by lawmakers, who also inserts hundreds of their own projects.
Given that background, the pledged funding could be largely contingent on the outcome of the November general election.
Ronchetti has said he is personally anti-abortion, but has said he would support as governor banning abortion after 15 weeks with exceptions for rape, incest and cases when a pregnant woman’s life is at risk.