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Albuquerque Set to Vote on Landmark Abortion Ban

Notorious Operation Rescue behind ordinance calling for 20-week ban with narrow exceptions

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Voters in Albuquerque will head to the polls for a special election on Tuesday to decide whether to ban abortions after 20 weeks.

(Photo: Shreyans Bhansali/cc/flickr) If it passes, Albuquerque will be the first city in the nation to enact a 20-week ban.

The municipal ordinance, as the Los Angeles Times notes, would "have statewide impact because the only late-term abortion providers in the largely rural state are in Albuquerque."

As Salon reported, "It should also be noted that the measure, called the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance, is based on medically refuted pseudoscience about fetal pain."

The ordinance, which voters will be able to read in its entirety, has no exceptions for rape, incest, deformities, or "psychological or emotional conditions" suffered by the pregnant woman.

As Ms. Magazine noted, "Only about 1 percent of abortions take place after 20 weeks, and the vast majority of those are due to fetal abnormalities. Comprehensive fetal testing that can reveal major birth defects such as brain malformations and missing organs aren’t usually performed until just before 20 weeks into a pregnancy."

NARAL Pro-Choice America said the proposed ban is "part of a larger strategy to criminalize abortion."

"It is a new strategy," conceded Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group that helped get the measure on the Albuquerque ballot and moved its aggressive campaigning to New Mexico after the assassination of Dr. Tiller, whom they had targeted with their activism. "There is more than one way to close an abortion clinic."

Reproductive rights groups have been sounding alarm over the potential threat the ban would bring to women's healthcare.

“This measure will put politics into the personal, complex, health care decisions that belong to New Mexican women and their doctors," NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement.

In a similar statement, Vicki Cowart, Planned Parenthood New Mexico CEO, said, "When a woman seeks an abortion later in pregnancy, it's often the result of heartbreaking and unusual circumstances—the kind of situation where she and her doctor should have every medical option available.”

Efforts the one in Albuquerque are a "deliberate effort to overturn Roe v Wade" that "have nothing to do with protecting women," Cowart continued.  "They will not promote health care. They are dangerous, they are over-reaching, and women are already paying the price in states where they have been enacted."

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