New Mexico shields abortion clinics ahead of expected patient surge

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FILE PHOTO: Democratic candidate for governor Michelle Lujan Grisham sits down for a meal at Barelas Coffee House on midterm elections day in Albuquerque

By Andrew Hay

(Reuters) -New Mexico’s governor signed an order on Monday she said was aimed at protecting abortion providers as the state prepared for an influx of patients and clinics from states set to ban the procedure.

The move follows similar actions by the governors of Massachusetts and Minnesota, where abortion also remains legal, after the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that had made the practice a constitutional right.

New Mexico expects a rise in patients from neighboring states such as Texas and Oklahoma, which are implementing near-complete bans on the procedure following the court’s decision upholding a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said her executive order protects providers from attempts by states to remove licenses or seek extraditions for giving abortions to out-of-state residents.

“We will not cooperate with any criminalization attempt,” Lujan Grisham told reporters.

Providers from across the country are expected to move to New Mexico as conservative states outlaw their clinics and women flock to cities like Albuquerque, where they can still operate.

Mississippi’s last abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, on Friday said it was moving to Las Cruces in southern New Mexico. The clinic, known as the Pink House, was at the center of the Supreme Court case.

Mississippi is among 13 states with “trigger laws” designed to ban or severely restrict abortions once the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Lujan Grisham in 2021 signed a bill to overturn New Mexico’s 1969 trigger law banning most abortion procedures.

Under the executive order, New Mexico would only assist another state’s legal investigation of a reproductive health care provider if the probe targeted conduct that was illegal under New Mexico law.

(Reporting By Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; editing by Donna Bryson, Bill Berkrot and Sam Holmes)