Biden meets with Lujan Grisham, other Democratic governors over abortion protections

New Mexico governor calls for federal protections and resources to protect women's access to care and shield them from criminalization

Algernon D'Ammassa
Las Cruces Sun-News
  • The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, negating a federal right to terminate pregnancies.
  • New Mexico repealed dormant ban on abortions last year.
  • Biden met with nine Democratic governors to discuss next steps and called for electing Democrats to federal and state offices.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was among nine Democratic state executives who met with President Joe Biden Friday for a virtual meeting about protecting reproductive rights one week after the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Lujan Grisham was one of three Democratic governors to speak before the live stream concluded and Biden continued to talk to the governors privately.

Biden and Govs. Kathy Kochul of New York, Roy Cooper of North Carolina and Lujan Grisham spoke about steps states had begun to take to protect women's access to reproductive care and shield them from legal jeopardy. They also promoted a message with the Nov. 8 elections in mind, urging voters to elect Democrats to state and federal offices.

Biden opened the session saying more Democrats were needed in Congress to secure majorities that could block efforts at a nationwide abortion ban and pass legislation codifying the right to abortion under law. Biden also stated, as he did Thursday, that he would support exempting such legislation from the Senate's filibuster rule, which effectively requires a supermajority to pass bills.

President Joe Biden opens a virtual meeting with Democratic governors on the issue of abortion and reproductive rights on Friday, July 1, 2022.

Lujan Grisham also raised the possibility that Indian Health Services providers could be enlisted to guarantee services on sovereign nations even within states that outlaw abortion.

"We stand ready to fight hard across the country, and making sure that you have what you need in Congress," Lujan Grisham said, "so that we can codify Roe v. Wade; so that your states that stand as that safe haven and brick wall. We'll continue to do that and support as many women and their families all across America, who are going to need us as we fight to win this battle."

More:After losing battle, Mississippi’s last abortion clinic is moving to New Mexico

On June 27, Lujan Grisham signed an executive order prohibiting execution of arrest warrants pursuant to antiabortion laws in other states or assistance by most state employees in actions taken by other states against abortion providers in New Mexico.

“Residents seeking access will be protected, providers will be protected, and abortion is and will continue to be legal, safe and accessible, period,” she announced in the cabinet room at the state Capitol in Santa Fe that day.

The executive order could be rescinded by her successor. The governor is currently running for a second term against Republican candidate Mark Ronchetti and is limited to two four-year terms even if she prevails in the Nov. 8 election.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announces an executive order aimed at ensuring safe harbor to people seeking abortions or providing abortions at health care facilities within the state, at a news conference in Santa Fe, N.M., on Monday, June 27, 2022. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision and ended constitutional protection for abortion, the battle over abortion rights has shifted to lower courts around the country, as one side sought quickly to put statewide bans into effect and the other tried to stop or at least delay such measures.

Ronchetti supports restrictions similar to the Mississippi law upheld in the Dobbs decision, which bans abortions after 15 weeks of gestation except for certain medical emergencies or severe fetal abnormality.

On Friday, Lujan Grisham also referred to efforts in the state to enhance resources for family planning services as well as medical services for women including abortion care.

"We are working diligently to make sure that when we say, and we mean, that abortion is legal, safe and accessible, that in fact it is," she said.

Last year, the New Mexico Legislature repealed New Mexico's 1969 statutory ban on abortion in most cases, which had been dormant since the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in Roe which established a federal right to abortion.

More:How many abortion clinics are in New Mexico? Fewer than you might think.

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the nation's highest court ruled in a 6-3 decision, announced June 24, that the U.S. Constitution did not provide the right to terminate a pregnancy. All six Justices who voted to overturn the precedent were appointed by Republican presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush or Donald Trump. Three were Trump appointees.

The decision prompted protests around the country as well as celebrations among opponents of abortion, as political focus among proponents of women's reproductive rights moves to states and speculation grew that the court's conservative majority may have laid the groundwork for rolling back more federally protected rights, such as same-sex marriage or contraception.

Algernon D'Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.