Two women’s health bills on the fast track this week

There are two reproductive health bills coming up this week that could impact women and their families in our communities. On Tuesday afternoon February 21, the Senate Public Affairs Committee will hear SB 282, the Put Patients First Act, which ensures that hospitals cannot practice religious refusal to withhold reproductive health services women. Then, on Friday, February 24 the Pregnant Worker Accommodation Bill, HB 179 is back for another round of hearings and testimony. It’s time to ensure that pregnant workers can continue to do their jobs and support their families by having access to reasonable accommodations for needs arising out of pregnancy. READ MORE: The Pregnant Worker Accommodation Bill (HB 179) requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations to women who are pregnant and must adjust duties that may challenge their health and their pregnancy.”
Click here to view the legislative schedule.

3 Bills Aim to Protect Reproductive Rights in New Mexico

[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.

Did You See The SIGNS? New Mexico Responds En Mass

No, President Trump has NOT released his tax returns. Albuquerque residents did however release anger and creativity on January 19th, in preparation for this past weekend’s Women’s March on Washington event. ProgressNow NM was out in numbers, both here in Albuquerque, and in the South end of the state, in Las Cruces. ProgressNow New Mexico’s Lucas Herndon can be seen below. No matter where you were, you witnessed the collective power of concerned citizens, who are not taking the recent developments at a national level lightly.

Rape kit backlog (finally) gets a lot more attention as legislative session nears

“With policies to overcome troubling long-held attitudes about victims, support for service providers and adequate funding, New Mexico can help lead the way by taking a concrete stand against sexual assault.”

— Tim Keller, New Mexico State Auditor

New Mexico has struggled over the last year to come to terms with a horrifying reality. Victims of sexual assault who submitted evidence from their attacks have waited years (sometimes over a decade) to see that evidence processed; often the first step in a long and difficult road to seek justice, or at the very least closure. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZdJF8KMIiY
This problem exists across the county, but like so many things, New Mexico ranks at the bottom of all states in per capita untested kits.  

Public Health New Mexico reported some of the first articles on the rape kit testing crisis back in July of this year. In a series of stories, KUNM brought the subject to the forefront again.

Did New Mexico women just shatter a glass ceiling in the legislature?

Wait, did New Mexico Democrats just shatter a glass ceiling by electing an all-women leadership? New Mexico Democrats might have just set an amazing precedent and shattered an insanely huge glass ceiling for women in leadership roles around the country. Three top positions within the Democrat’s new majority leadership are being occupied by women. Not only that but Sheryl Williams Stapleton, an African American, Doreen Gallegos, a Latina, and Doreen Wonda Johnson, a member of the Navajo Nation, are all women of color from very different parts of New Mexico — potentially creating THE most diverse caucus leadership team in American history. Nationwide women only make up 24.2% of state legislators despite representing nearly 51% of the overall population.

No Más Bebés

They came to the hospital to safely deliver their babies. They went home sterilized by the doctors who delivered their children. The documentary film No Más Bebés, chronicles the story of Mexican American women sterilized under duress, stress and coercion, even in the early moments of giving birth, at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical center in the 1960s and 1970s. https://youtu.be/38Aj9HMLcRQ

There will be a special screening of the film followed by a talk-back on Thursday, October 27 at the Domenici Center for Health Sciences Education, 1001 Stanford NE, Albuquerque, 5pm. Immediately following the film, Young Women United, the presenter of the event will host a dialogue with one of the film’s producers, Virginia Espino. If coerced or forced sterilization by American doctors in California sounds like some future dystopia, know that the horrific “science” of eugenics has been practiced in the United States since the early 20th Century with the first bill proposed to sterilize “undesirables” in 1849. The bill was never brought to vote, but it emboldened those eager to outnumber the “other” to continue the development of their weird science in the decades to come.

Parents and Presidents can’t afford to get sick.

And with a bang of District Judge Alan Malott’s gavel, big business interests in New Mexico postponed – at least for now – a worker-led ballot initiative that would guarantee sick-leave for workers in the Duke City. Now, workers will keep serving our food, caring for our kids and our elderly parents when they’re under the weather. If nothing else, this week reminds us that parents and Presidents can’t afford to get sick. Fox News pundits do the happy dance as they chronicle day two of investigative reporting into presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton’s absence from the campaign trail. Pneumonia?

Action Alert: Graphic anti-abortion mailer targets progressive legislators (again)

Is anti-choice group Protest Albuquerque about to break the law… again? This week the denounced anti-choice group ‘Protest Albuquerque’ announced plans to send out more mailers depicting gruesome images and targeting what they call “religious pro-abortion Catholic Democrats.” In this round of mailers they say they will be targeting voters starting with homes in the districts of progressive champions State Senators Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Jacob Candelaria. Previously the group sent mailers just before New Mexico’s primary election day on June 7 into districts targeting Michael Sanchez, Bill O’Neill, and Daniel Ivey-Soto.

Lt. Governor takes page out of anti-abortion extremist playbook

There is an old saying in Spanish: “Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres.” It translates roughly to “tell me who you are with and I will tell you who you are.” This past week Lt. Governor John Sanchez took to Facebook to make it extremely clear who he’s with. In a Facebook post (see below), Sanchez continued the dangerous and blatantly false rhetoric that anti-abortion extremists have been using to describe the Congressional witch-hunt against clinics and medical institutions across the country and in our own state.  

Contrary to Sanchez’s version of the facts, these hearings, like the previous three investigating Planned Parenthood, have found no evidence of wrongdoing. Like the investigation he references, Lt. Governor Sanchez’s claims are baseless.

GOP Witch-Hunt Targets UNM Med Students & Staff

The Select Committee to Attack Women’s Health is relentless in their witch-hunt to collect the names of UNM Health Sciences Center students and staff. Just yesterday the committee they issued yet another round of subpoenas demanding the names redacted in documents provided by UNM to ensure the safety of their employees and students. But even after issuing three rounds of subpoenas the anti-abortion committee chair, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, has refused to provide any rationale for why she needs to create a database of names of researchers, students, doctors, and personnel.  Now, they want to take their harassment to a whole new level by requiring UNM faculty to appear before them in an effort that will only further feed the anti-abortion extremist rhetoric that has inspired violence against abortion providers. Can you imagine what could happen if the names of UNM’s professors and students end up in the hands of anti-abortion extremists?