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New Mexico Abortion Laws

Abortion is a hot topic of debate that can be polarizing due to the strongly held beliefs on both sides of the discussion. However, it is legal in the U.S. to get an abortion, although states do regulate how an abortion can be lawfully performed within their borders.

New Mexico still has an unenforceable abortion ban from 1953 on the books that predates by 20 years Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that gave women the right to choose whether or not to become a mother. This law states that abortion is illegal except for ones that are considered “justified medical termination” or explicitly a pregnancy such as one of the following:

  1. A pregnancy that is likely to result in the death or grave impairment of the physical or mental health of the woman
  2. The child probably will have a grave physical or mental defect
  3. The pregnancy was the result of a rape that she has or will report to law enforcement
  4. The pregnancy resulted from incest

The chart below outlines the main abortion laws in New Mexico.

Code Sections New Mexico Statutes Chapter 30: Criminal Offenses, Article 5: Abortion and Article 5A: Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act
Illegal Abortions As stated above, New Mexico law claims that any abortion that isn’t a “justified medical termination” is illegal. However, this is unenforceable due to a constitutional right to privacy that a woman has over her own body.

Partial-birth abortions are also banned in New Mexico. Partial birth abortions are legally defined as when a doctor intentionally extracts a viable fetus from the uterus into the vagina and mechanically extracts the cranial contents of the fetus to induce death.
Legal Abortions An abortion in New Mexico is lawful if the doctor and facility comply with the abortion licensing requirements and it isn’t a partial-birth abortion (except to save the woman or prevent great bodily harm to her).
Physician Licensing Requirements Only licensed physicians in licensed hospitals can perform legal abortions in New Mexico.
Penalty for Unlawful Abortion A “criminal abortion” is a fourth degree felony. If the woman dies as a result of the abortion, it’s a second degree felony. This law would come into play if someone did, for example, provide discount abortions by non-doctors out of their garage in unsanitary conditions.

The criminal penalty for performing a partial-birth abortion is a fourth degree felony resulting in up to 18 months imprisonment and a possible fine up to $5,000.

In addition, a number of individuals can sue the doctor for a partial-birth abortion in civil court for their damages, including:
  1. The person who had the partial-birth abortion
  2. The biological father of the fetus that’s involved in the partial-birth abortion
  3. The parents of a girl under 18 who has the partial-birth abortion

However, a woman who consents to the partial-birth abortion or a father who impregnated the woman criminally by rape, incest, etc. can’t sue the doctor.

Consent Requirements A woman must request and consent to the abortion, as a person does to any other medical procedure.

Some activists and legislators wanted to pass the “Woman’s Right to Know Act” in 2013 which requires an “informed consent” beyond the requirement of any other procedure, including the use of an ultrasound and fetal monitor for the pregnant woman to hear the fetal heartbeat. This act wasn’t passed and didn’t become law.
Parental Notification New Mexico doesn’t have a parental notification requirement as some states do. A parental consent law was judicially thrown out as unconstitutional.
Waiting Periods New Mexico doesn’t require a woman to wait a specific period of time to have an abortion.
Public Funding New Mexico does permit public funding of abortions when they are “medically necessary,” as do some other states.

If you have questions about your reproductive rights, including those related to abortions, you may need to consult an experienced New Mexico health care or civil rights lawyer.

Note: State and federal laws change frequently, especially on such controversial topics as abortion. Please contact a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these reproductive rights laws.

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