“Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop,' ” chanted participants of a pro-choice abortion rally Friday afternoon.
Around 50 people gathered at Central and First Street to spread awareness and support for reproductive rights. The demonstration was organized by the Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSL).
“Even though it’s a smaller turnout tonight, the energy is really great,” said Karina Rodgers, 24, a member of PSL. “There’s a lot of new faces here, and a lot of young faces as well. It’s really inspiring because this is just the beginning of protests, rallies and the movement for reproductive rights.”
In March of this year, New Mexico’s Democratic-held senate voted to uphold the state’s 50-year-old criminal ban on abortion. The state’s 1969 Criminal Abortion Law has not been enforced since 1973, when Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationally. The law was not repealed because eight Democratic Senators joined all 28 Republicans to keep the law on the books.
PSL said they hoped to gain support for repealing New Mexico’s pre-Roe ban, as well as the federal Hyde Amendment, which states that Medicaid, a tax-funded program, does not cover abortions unless the pregnancy is a result of rape, incest or the woman’s life is in danger.
“One of our major goals is to bring education about the abortion bans, to come out and defend women’s rights and LGBTQ rights, because people of oppressed genders and sexualities are the ones that this ban affects the most,” said Bex Hampton, an organizer for PSL.
According to a 2014 study by the Guttmacher Institute, a group that supports legalized abortion, approximately 91% of counties in New Mexico had no clinics that provided abortions, and 48% of New Mexican women lived in those counties at the time of the study.
PSL representatives said repealing New Mexico's abortion ban does not solve the issues to access abortion and reproductive services in New Mexico.
“Even today our message is that it’s not just about abortion, but also the need for universal health care, because without universal health care abortion remains inaccessible,” event organizer Candice Yanez said.
Kate Barr, 22, a University of New Mexico graduate student, said she wanted to join a movement that organized in the community. She said PSL, in which she is involved, is not only fighting to repeal the pre-Roe ban in New Mexico, but also put an end to all the abortion bans that are happening throughout the country.
“Our supreme court right now is completely undemocratic, has a history of being undemocratic and is full of opponents of women’s rights,” Barr said.
On May 30, Louisiana became the fifth state in 2019 to enact a ban on abortion 6 weeks after gestation — often before people know they are pregnant. The other four states to sign six-week bans were Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi. Additionally, Alabama recently enacted a near total abortion ban which only allows abortions when it threatens the mother's life and does not include exceptions for rape and incest. Missouri enacted a ban after eight weeks of gestation.
None of these laws are currently in effect. Kentucky and Mississippi are in litigation and others, like Alabama, will go into effect in November if not challenged in courts.
Supporters like Savannah Nelson participated in the rally because they thought it was important to show up in response to the bans that have been passed in several states.
“This issue is really important to me,” Nelson said. “I know people who have had abortions, people in my family have had an abortion; everyone knows someone who has had an abortion. As someone who can get pregnant, I want that choice.”