Abortion-Rights Group, Catholic Archbishop Target Albuquerque Voters as Special Election Nears

November 7, 2013 — A New Mexico advocacy group called Respect ABQ Women purchased two television ads to oppose a proposed citywide abortion ban Albuquerque voters will consider on Nov. 19, KOB Eyewitness News 4 reports (Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4, 11/5).

In September, the Albuquerque City Council voted 5-4 to hold the special election so that residents can vote on a ballot measure that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If approved, the proposal would make Albuquerque the first city to impose such a ban, which mirrors statewide laws in a dozen other places (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/11).

As of the last reporting deadline, Respect ABQ Women had raised more than $300,000 to oppose the measure, according to KOB Eyewitness News 4. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, which includes Planned Parenthood of New Mexico, provided much of the money.

Respect ABQ Women used some of the funding to purchase the two ads, the latest of which features a local physician, Sandra Penn, explaining her opposition to the ban.

Meanwhile, Protect ABQ Women and Children, a group advocating for the ban, reported that it has raised $71,000. The group has not purchased TV ads. PAWC President Elisa Martinez said the organization is focusing its efforts on grassroots campaigning (KOB Eyewitness News, 11/5).

Catholic Archbishop Urges Parishioners To Support Ban

In related news, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe on Sunday urged Catholic voters to support the 20-week abortion ban. During a homily at the Shrine of Bernadette, Sheehan said, "Let us say yes to Jesus, let us say yes to the unborn child, and urge others to do the same."

According to KOB Eyewitness News 4, his message was "well-received" by parishioners, but "some lifelong Catholics" said that women should be free to make their own decisions about abortion. For example, Tannia Esparza said she would oppose the ban because the "evil thing would be to condemn our women and families facing these heartbreaking circumstances" (Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4, 11/3).