By a 10 percent margin, voters in Albuquerque, N.M., defeated a ban on late-term abortions Tuesday in a municipal election.
Voters rejected the measure 55 percent to 45 percent. Labeled the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance, if passed, it would have banned abortions after 20 weeks gestation in the womb, the point at which pre-born babies have been shown to feel pain. Exceptions would have been made for women who face medical emergencies that require a termination of their pregnancies.
This measure successfully made its way onto the ballot after pro-life groups in the city campaigned to gather more than 12,000 signatures in 20 days during the summer, forcing the local city council to either immediately decide on the 20-week ban or put it up for a ballot vote.
A September poll by the Albuquerque Journal showed that 54 percent of the city's adult residents supported the measure. If the vote had passed, the southwestern city would have been the first in the nation to have a municipal abortion ban.
Dana Cody, executive director for the Life Legal Defense Foundation, noted in a statement shared with The Christian Post on Tuesday, that the "Albuquerque municipal election is one that carries national import, because Albuquerque is home to the largest late-term abortion clinic in the nation."
Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights, celebrated the outcome and asserted in a statement that, "bans on abortion at 20 weeks are as dangerous as they are unconstitutional, coming at a point at which a woman is just receiving the results of critical tests to determine the health of her pregnancy-and potentially the presence of life-threatening fetal abnormalities."
This vote comes days after Live Action, a pro-life advocacy group, released an undercover video that exposes the practices at an Albuquerque abortion clinic.
In the video, a woman working undercover for Live Action, calls Southwestern Women's Options to inquire about an abortion at 25 weeks. The cost, she is told, is $8,000. For each week she waits, the cost increases by $1,000.
The video then shows the undercover investigator, now 27 weeks pregnant, at her appointment asking the abortionist, Dr. Carmen Landau, if she has done the procedure before on women at 27 weeks, she answers in a hushed voice, "yeah, lots."
Landau then explains that "people come from all over the country and all over the world to our clinic, because in most places you cannot get an abortion after 24 weeks."
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, a leading pro-life group in the country that helped get the ordinance on the Nov. 19 ballot, told Reuters that targeting local city governments, as opposed to state governments, could be a new strategy for having stricter abortion laws passed in the country.
"It is a new strategy. There is more than one way to close an abortion clinic," Newman said. "If you can't get anything done in a state legislature […] you look at what is going on in a city. They say all politics is local. This is a great example of that."
Newman told The Washington Post in a recent article that pro-life groups are always open to trying new methods to get their message across. "Sometime in the state houses we're not getting what we want," Newman said. "But on a more local level, people are more concerned about their problems in a city than they are in the state legislature. [...] We've always been innovative in trying new strategies."