SANTA FE, NM (AP) — The Republican candidate for governor of New Mexico has proposed a statewide referendum that could impose new limitations on access to abortion procedures, introducing the idea in a TV commercial on Thursday.
Mark Ronchetti argued for a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for rape, incest and risk to the mother’s physical health. It goes in the direction of a proposal this week to ban abortion nationwide of Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
“I’ve made my position clear: end late-term abortion,” Ronchetti says in the ad, sitting on a couch next to his wife Krysty Ronchetti. “Put it on a statewide ballot so everyone has a say.”
Referendums in New Mexico are limited to constitutional amendments proposed by the state that can be scheduled by the legislature, with or without the governor’s consent.
New Mexico state law guarantees abortion access with few restrictions, even after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down guaranteed access in a June ruling.
Incumbent Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham expressed immediate opposition to her opponent’s referendum proposal.
The governor has portrayed herself as a strong advocate for abortion access, signing an executive order in August pledging $10 million to build a clinic that would provide abortion and other pregnancy care.
In a statement, Lujan Grisham’s spokesman, Delaney Corcoran, said the governor “will oppose any attempt to reverse New Mexico’s progress in protecting abortion rights.” She opposes Mark Ronchetti’s overt attempt to ban abortion through a constitutional amendment.
In 2021, Lujan Grisham and state legislators repealed a dormant 1969 law which banned most abortion procedures as crimes.
Albuquerque is home to one of the few independent clinics in the country that performs unconditional third-trimester abortions.
Under current state law, New Mexico can expect to continue to see a steady influx of people seeking abortions from neighboring states with more restrictive abortion laws. It already sees patients from Texas and Oklahoma, where some of the country’s toughest abortion bans were introduced this year.
Ronchetti and Lujan Grisham have called each other extremists on abortion policy. Anti-abortion activist Karen Bedonie is also running for governor as a Libertarian Party candidate.
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