New Mexico Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday signed into law a bill that prohibits local municipalities and other public bodies from interfering with a person’s ability to access reproductive or gender-affirming health care services.
HB7, the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Freedom Act, also prohibits any public body from imposing laws, ordinances, policies or regulations that prevent patients from receiving reproductive or gender-affirming care.
The move comes in the wake of the reversal of federal abortion rights last year and as several states have enacted measures to prevent minors from accessing gender-affirming care.
Gender-affirming care is medically necessary, evidence-based care that uses a multidisciplinary approach to help a person transition from their assigned gender – the one the person was designated at birth – to their affirmed gender – the gender by which one wants to be known.
“New Mexicans in every corner of our state deserve protections for their bodily autonomy and right to health care,” Lujan Grisham said in a news release. “I’m grateful for the hard work of the Legislature and community partners in getting this critical legislation across the finish line.”
Each violation of the law can result in a fine of $5,000 or damages, if the amount is greater, according to the bill.
The law follows ordinances that several municipalities in the state had previously passed related to abortion care access after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer.
While abortion is legal in New Mexico, several GOP-led states have introduced or enacted measures restricting abortion, including Texas and Oklahoma, which have banned the procedure at all stages of pregnancy with limited exceptions. In response, New Mexico, which neighbors both states, allocated $10 million to build a new abortion clinic near the Texas border.
Several other Democratic-controlled states have moved to reaffirm reproductive care in response to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling.
Minnesota’s Democratic governor signed a bill into law earlier this year that enshrined the “fundamental right” to access abortion in the state. Last year, California passed several bills expanding abortion access, including protections for abortion providers and patients seeking abortion care in the state from civil action started in another state.
As states move to enact measures, new legal challenges could further complicate abortion access in a post-Roe America.
A federal court in Texas heard arguments this week to block the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, one of the two drugs used in a medication abortion, which made up more than half of US abortions in 2020, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Though the Trump-appointed judge has not issued a ruling, he suggested during arguments that he is seriously considering undoing the FDA’s approval.
Also at risk is access to gender-affirming care for trans youth, which LGBTQ advocates have long stressed is life-saving health care.
So far this year, lawmakers in Tennessee, Mississippi, Utah and South Dakota have enacted legislation to restrict minors’ access to such care.
Additionally, more than 80 bills seeking to restrict access to gender-affirming care have been introduced around the country through early last month, according to data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union and shared with CNN.