Albuquerque pro-life ordinance survives attempt to kill it

by Alissa Robertson
Posted 8/26/13, 11:12 am

States are now examining and sometimes passing bills to ban abortion after 20 weeks, and some cities are as well. One is Albuquerque, N.M., where local pro-life leaders tried to get a Pain Capable Unborn Child Ordinance on the Oct. 8 ballot. The city clerk said no—but that setback appears only temporary.

Pro-lifers modeled the ordinance after the Fetal Pain Bill passed in the U.S. House. They filed a petition with city officials on June 28, and in 20 days collected 26,900 signatures, with the goal of having Albuquerque citizens vote on the ordinance. Officials had verified only 9,900 signatures by the Aug. 19 city council meeting, fewer than the 12,091 required to present the measure during the next scheduled election. 

Despite that setback, Tara Shaver of Project Defending Life said she remains confident the verification process will continue and voters will get a chance to consider the pro-life petition: “Once the signatures are verified, the councilmen are obligated to put the ordinance on the ballot. … It may be on the November run-off election ballot, or it may be on a special ballot.” A special election could cost $600,000, so Shaver has proposed the city council pass the ordinance without a public referendum.

Liberal groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice say the ordinance is unconstitutional. They are conducting a counter-campaign called Respect ABQ Women. Members of Respect ABQ Women did not respond to WORLD’s request for an interview.

If the Pain Capable Unborn Child Ordinance does become law, it will save lives and also save New Mexico thousands of dollars in Medicaid claims. In 2011 alone, Medicaid paid for 1,786 abortions in New Mexico, sticking taxpayers with a bill for more than $1.1 million.

Alissa Robertson
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