[UPDATE: SB 282 Passed in the House Judiciary Committee, March 10! Now it moves on the the Governor’s desk.]

Respect New Mexico Women, a coalition of local organizations committed to supporting women’s health care access launched their reproductive agenda this week with a trio of legislative bills that expand the reproductive rights of women in our state, where New Mexicans remain unapologetically in favor of a woman’s right to access all forms of healthcare, including abortion.

This is not necessarily true across the nation, where supporters, activists and healthcare providers face the possibility of dangerous rollbacks in legislation.

Committees are reviewing at least forty-six anti-abortion bills in 14 states that challenge access to reproductive health including the right to a legal and safe abortion. With the appointment of religious zealot Betsy DeVos, whose family money has “funded crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs)” that lie to patients about pregnancy, abortion, and other health concerns,” women’s health may soon find itself in limbo, but not yet. And not in New Mexico, if Respect New Mexico Women has anything to say about it. Let’s take a look at the bills Respect New Mexico introduced at their press conference that will soon be brought to committee. Progressives – please keep a weather eye out for:

The Health Coverage for Contraception (HB 284) sponsored by Rep. Debbie Armstrong, would update the state’s existing law to ensure that the full range of contraceptive options is covered by insurance companies without out-of-pocket costs or medically unnecessary restrictions. The bill would also improve access to contraception by covering access for both women and men and requiring insurance companies to cover up to a year’s supply of contraception at once. Studies show that abortion rates are at an all-time low which is due to the availability and access to contraception. In fact, the number of abortions has dropped 40% in the past 25 years. Better access to contraception is convenient for both women and men and means fewer unintended pregnancies.

Pregnant women can easily find themselves in life or death scenarios when they are denied treatment by hospitals and urgent care facilities that put prayer over health care. According to a study by the ACLU and MergerWatch, one in six beds in the nation is under the governance Catholic hospitals where reproductive health care services and care are prohibited. In New Mexico there’s often no other options for health care BUT a hospital or clinic run by religious organizations, endangering the lives of women and their families.  SB 282, the Put Patients First Act, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, would prevent hospitals and urgent care facilities from limiting a healthcare provider’s ability to provide medically accurate and comprehensive information to a patient, including the ability to make referrals or provide reproductive health services when a failure to do so could put a patient’s life or health in danger.

The workplace can be a dangerous and discriminatory place, especially for women who experience pregnancy during employment. Women who are pregnant while employed are allowed the minimal breaks an employer may offer but this is often not enough to ensure a woman can maintain her health and keep her job.

[UPDATE: SB 282 Passed in the House Judiciary Committee, March 10! Now it moves on the the Governor’s desk.]

Often women must choose between holding onto their jobs or risk of endangering their pregnancy and the financial stability of their families. The New Mexico Pregnant Worker Accommodation Act, (HB 179) sponsored by Rep. Gail Chasey, would ensure that pregnant workers can continue to do their jobs and support their families by having access to reasonable accommodations at work for needs arising out of pregnancy.

These three bills, are not controversial. They represent basic human rights of women in the various stages of their reproductive lives.

Want to help push these bills through? Your presence and your voice may be needed to show the powers that be the necessity of this legislation. Please join our rapid response team to receive the latest information on Women’s Health, Contraception and Abortion.

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