NM Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Local Abortion Restrictions
The New Mexico Supreme Court is weighing whether to strike down local abortion restrictions by conservative cities and counties at the request of the attorney general for the state where abortion laws are among the most liberal in the country.
The high court heard oral arguments for roughly an hour Wednesday without a ruling as lawyers and activists packed the small courtroom and state police vehicles lined the street outside in a rarely seen security deployment.
State Attorney General Raul Torrez told the justices that state laws protecting abortion rights supersede any local ordinances.
“The enactment of these ordinances is clearly preempted by the state’s decision to foreclose two local governments the opportunity to set independent licensing requirements for physicians or types of medical procedures in their jurisdictions.”
Erin Hawley, a Washington-D.C.-based attorney representing Roosevelt County, argued that the new state law doesn't prevent local governments from interfering with services such as abortion saying it falls outside standardized medical obligations to patients.
It's unclear how soon the justices may rule after temporarily blocking local anti-abortion ordinances. In Lea and Roosevelt counties and the cities of Hobbs and Clovis, officials argue that local governments have the right to back federal abortion restrictions under a 19th century U.S. law that prohibits the shipping of abortion medication and supplies.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.