(Photo: Darren Hauck/Reuters)
A group of about a half-dozen men gathered at an event in Albuquerque, New Mexico this past weekend to voice their opposition to an upcoming abortion ban that will be posed to city voters on Nov. 19. If the vote passes, the southwestern city will be the first in the nation to have a municipal abortion ban.
The group of men that included some local politicians, senators, an attorney and a law student gathered at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty on Saturday to implore city voters to choose "no" on the upcoming abortion ban that would illegalize the practice after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Saturday's event was sponsored by Respect ABQ Women, a group that opposes the ban, and was attended by Democratic Senators Jacob Candelaria and Cisco McSorley, local city councilmen Rey Garduño and Isaac Benton, attorney Michael Hart and University of New Mexico Law School student Robert Johnston.
"I ask all of Albuquerque's men to think about the women in their lives. Think about their mothers, their sisters, their daughters and nieces," Johnston told those in attendance at Saturday's event. "I know I would never want any of the women in my life to face such a decision. However, if they had to face it, I would want them to be free to make their own decisions for their future, instead of being told what they can and cannot do by out-of-state groups using the government to oppress them."
A ballot measure banning abortions after 20-weeks of pregnancy will appear on the Nov. 19 election ballot for Albuquerque residents. The measure asserts that fetuses can feel pain after 20-weeks of gestation in the womb, and bans abortion with the exception of a woman's health. This measure successfully made its way onto the ballot after pro-life groups in the city campaigned to gather over 12,000 signatures in 20 days over the summer, forcing the local city council to either immediately decide on the 20-week ban or put it up for a ballot vote.
Pro-life groups have stated 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," 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. "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 said.
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."