Extremists have lost the 20 week abortion ban ballot initiative in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Unofficial results are: For 20 week abortion ban : 44.79%  Against 20 week abortion ban: 55.21%

As a person who lives in one of the reddest of red states, Arizona, I have always found hope in the fact that a neighboring state, New Mexico, is blue. But like all things blue these days, it seems that religious and political zealots cannot stand the thought of people doing blue things that zealous, extreme religious views forbid.

I first heard about moving the attacks in the war on women to local level politics in the beginning of November 2013 at a conference. In a workshop there a young woman from Albuquerque talked about the visual and political assault that has been carried out on her community by anti-abortion extremists.

That assault was a special municipal election in Albuquerque, NM was held on Tuesday, November 19th. The ordinance on the ballot was called the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance.” It failed. But it only failed after public sentiment turned in November after money from women’s healthcare rights groups came in to help balance Operation Rescue’s outside funds that started and maintained this ballot initiative.

This precedent setting election brought the assault on women’s rights to health care and medical privacy to a municipal level law from what had been a two pronged strategy of changing state level law and engaging in personal attacks by national conservative religious groups.

The Problem of Outsiders

This is problematic for so many reasons, the ordinance failed, but the problematic aspects of outsiders bringing major funds into a community to change laws in with proposed ordinances and special elections for those ordinances that would never have been brought to ballot if the action had been dependent on local sentiment and action.

What right does a national organization based in Kansas have to, as Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, a leading U.S. anti-abortion group, admitted, attempt to close clinics in New Mexico? “It is a new strategy. There is more than one way to close an abortion clinic,” said Troy Newman of his group’s financial, organizational, and logistical orchestration of this ballot initiative in a Reuters interview.  Sydney Hodge, from Women Organized to Resist and Defend spoke at the previously-mentioned recent conference about the busloads of young signature-gatherers that were bussed into Albuquerque from out-of -tate to gather the signatures necessary to put the ordinance on the ballot. She further stated that the gathers were unaware of nearly all of the facts related to healthcare situations that might make a woman need a mid or late-term termination of a pregnancy.
Unfortunately, Operation Rescue has a long history of using not only ill-informed young people to gather signatures but also a history of supporting and employing individuals who murder and bomb healthcare providers and clinics as is so thoroughly exposed in Rachel Maddow’s piece, Tiller’s assassin tied to Operation Rescue, got away with federal-law violations.


Taxpayer Burden

Not only does Operation Rescue have connections to terrorist acts such as bombing and assassination, its backing of this Albuquerque special ballot measure will cost the people of New Mexico an enormous amount of money for the special election. Some areas within the city tacked on other ballot measures, but this was a special ballot that cost significant amounts. Had the measure passed, it would have cost not only the city but the state, and thus all New Mexico taxpayers, huge amounts of money in court costs because had the ordinance passed, it would have immediately been challenged in the courts.
Patrick Davis a spokesperson for Progress Now New Mexico provided a $1 million figure to Reuters. Sydney Hodge, from  WORD gave solid figures of as high as $2.5 million in taxpayer costs at the aforementioned conference presentation.
I strongly suspect that this local ordinance would not have been put on the ballot had the costs and financial risks of its introduction not been carried by Operation Rescue. Elisa Martinez is the Albuquerque spokeswoman for the campaign to approve the ordinance. I doubt that she or any local Albuquerque group could or would have assumed all the costs of getting the ordinance to ballot.
This is a multi-tiered war that has waged coordinated campaigns to erode the rights of women at the levels of the states and the nation. This enemy of women wants to have the ultimate say in women’s medical care. They want to control women’s choice. Individuals are harassed, misguided, and even assassinated by them. Now municipal level attack has been added to the anti-women religious fringe’s arsenal to target rare and specific procedures that only four remaining physicians in the United States perform.

Religious Intrusion into Civic Process

Albuquerque, like much of New Mexico has a rich Catholic tradition and influence. Archbishop of Santa Fe, Michael Sheehan, appears to have violated the non-partisan dictates that provide tax exempt status to religious institutions because they stand apart from political processes, through his call to have Catholics support the late term abortion ban. The failure make this political call from the pulpit no less problematic. Operation Rescue West lost tax exempt status in 2004 because of an ad it placed in the

“…ultraconservative national Catholic weekly. In the ad, ORW called on readers to make what it said was a “tax-deductible donation to help pay the bills and affect the outcome of the election” and called for readers to give a tax-deductible donation to help “defeat [John Kerry] in November and enable President Bush to appoint a pro-life Supreme Court Justice to finally overturn Roe v. Wade.”

Propaganda is a Weapon

The incorporation of the words “pain capable” into title of the now defeated ordinance in the City of Albuquerque belies the template from which this supposedly local ordinance was stamped. The template is being used nationwide so this was by no means a local issue.
Women and communities have the right to operate independently from religious groups which hold views about the interpretation data that differ from their own equally valid beliefs. Such interjection is dangerous.
Religious propaganda is not an exercise in the freedom of speech, it is deception and misguidance crafted to undermine logical thought and the incorporation of scientific knowledge into the technologies and methodologies that knit the fabric of our society together. The interjection of fake information into political discourse and the incorporation of those falsehoods into statute undermines the legitimacy of political systems. Lies propagate and spread. At the 20th week of gestation, a fetus does not feel pain. Exacting medical research and knowledge gained from it show that fetal pain perception develops two months later into gestational development.

“Many of these fetal pain bills are based on the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” template produced by the National Right to Life Committee. This template asserts that fetuses feel pain as early as 13 weeks and suggests that the possible presence of fetal pain should abrogate a woman’s constitutional right to abortion.” — Lisa M. Corrigan Navigating the Junk Science of Fetal Pain

Religion is belief, science is fact. The presentation of religious belief as science fact is dishonest. Crafting political sentiments with lies is nothing more than propaganda.

A Woman’s Right to Medical Privacy and Freedom

Why a woman has to make the terrible decision to have an abortion is no one’s business beyond a woman and her physician. Her records are protected by HIPAA or The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

I strongly encourage you to ready about mercy abortions if you have questions about late-term abortions. I would further encourage you to think about how women’s rights to medical privacy are undermined by segregating the location of women’s health services from other health services. I also hope you will act to support extinguishing the attempt of anti-women forces to bring the war on women into the local legislative purview and further to act to reincorporate women’s healthcare into mainstream healthcare rather than segregating it for special geographic and legal treatment. The separate and unequal place and status of women’s access to healthcare compromises women’s constitutional right to equal treatment under the law.