SANTA FE — State senators have approved a bill allowing additional school absences for pregnant teenagers, sending the measure to Gov. Susana Martinez for her consideration.

The bill cleared the Senate late Monday on a vote of 37-3. It previously was approved 56-12 by the House of Representatives. All the negative votes were by Republicans.

State Rep. Doreen Gallegos, D-Las Cruces, is the primary sponsor. She said the bill's intent was to make certain that access to education remains constant for pregnant girls or mothers and fathers who are still in high school.

Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas, is supporting the bill because of his opposition to abortion.

Baldonado said he would ask 14- or 15-year-old girls not to terminate a pregnancy. Therefore, he said, he wanted to make available the tools to help teenage mothers succeed in school and in life.

Baldonado said he had not spoken about the bill with Martinez, a fellow Republican, but he believed she would consider signing it.

"If I give her my perspective, I think she would listen," Baldonado said in an interview.

The bill would allow 10 days of excused absences for the documented birth of a child, and four days per semester for pregnant and parenting students.

Students would have to make up all the school work they missed within the same number of days that they were absent.

Gallegos said some students might not need any excused absences, but others would to balance the responsibilities of school and parenthood. She said the bill would improve their chances of staying in school and off public assistance.

The American Civil Liberties Union is among the groups supporting the bill. It cited research by the Child Trends organization that said only 34 percent of Hispanic teenage mothers receive a high school diploma.

Three members of the New Mexico House of Representatives became mothers while in high school. Two of them — Republican Rep. Kelly Fajardo of Belen and Democrat Georgene Louis of Albuquerque — voted for the bill.

Fajardo said the measure would help teen mothers to keep working toward a diploma.

Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, who also was a teen mother, voted against the bill. Youngblood, 36, questioned the need for it. She said she was one of 10 or 15 girls in her high school class who were teen mothers, and all but a couple graduated.

Milan Simonich, Santa Fe bureau chief of Texas-New Mexico Newspapers, can be reached at msimonich@tnmnp.com or 505-820-6898. His blog is at nmcapitolreport.com