New Mexico bills seek late-term abortion ban, parent notice

AP News
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Posted: Feb 06, 2015 7:44 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican lawmakers in New Mexico are proposing a ban on late-term abortions and a requirement for minors to notify parents within 48 hours before terminating a pregnancy.

The legislation proposed Friday comes less than a month after Roman Catholic bishops urged lawmakers to enact new abortion laws this legislative session with the GOP in control of the House for the first time in decades. Democrats remain in control of the Senate.

Several Democrats also have signed on to support the bills, said Chris Sanchez, a spokesman for the House Republican Caucus. The legislation is expected to be introduced Monday.

The Republicans say the late-term abortion ban is designed to bring New Mexico in line with 42 other states by restricting abortions after five months' gestation and if the doctor determines the fetus is viable.

Both pieces of legislation include exceptions in cases of rape, incest, sexual abuse and when the woman's life is in danger.

"This is common-sense legislation that protects the life of the child after five months pregnancy," said Alamogordo Rep. Yvette Herrell, sponsor of the late-term abortion bill, in a statement.

Under the proposal, a physician performing a late-term abortion would face a civil penalty of at least $5,000. In addition, the doctor's license could be taken away for at least a year, Sanchez said in a news release. The penalties only apply to the doctor and are the same for both proposals.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has repeatedly said "she is pro-life, which would of course include opposition to late-term abortions," her spokesman Mike Lonergan told The Associated Press. She believes parents should be notified before a minor can have an abortion, he said.

House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, of Santa Fe, said in a statement that "the decision to have an abortion later in pregnancy is one of the most private and personal decisions any family can be faced with. This decision belongs to a woman, her family, and her doctor, the government has no place in such a personal decision."

Rep. Deborah Armstrong said the notification bill is unnecessary and a decision on abortion should be between a woman and her doctor.

"These are heart-breaking situations and it's the last place that a politician should get involved," the Albuquerque Democrat said.