Voters soundly reject Albuquerque abortion limits in near-record turnout

Voters in Albuquerque overwhelmingly rejected a measure Tuesday that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks.

With record-breaking turnout for a special election, the nation’s first citywide measure to limit abortions fell by about 55 percent to 47 percent.

More than 87,000 voters, roughly a quarter the city’s 360,000 registered voters, took part in the special election, including about 50,000 who cast early or absentee ballots.

"Albuquerque voters respected women and sent a clear message here and across the country that voters reject callous attempts to take away complex, personal decisions from women, their families, and their faith," said Adriann Barboa, of the Respect ABQ Women and field director for Strong Families New Mexico

"We won in part because of the strong, diverse local organizations that have pulled together, year after year, to ensure justice for every New Mexico family," Barboa said. "Our families are stronger when we can make health decisions based on what is best for our circumstances, not based on what politicians or voters decide."

The initiative turned Albuquerque into the latest battleground in the fight to limit reproductive rights and served as a test to determine whether abortion could be limited at the local level.

Under the proposed restrictions, which New Mexico's attorney general said were unconstitutional, doctors would have been prohibited from performing so-called late-term abortions within city limits and provided exceptions for the life of the mother, but did not allow waivers in the case of rape or incest.

"The measure put before Albuquerque voters was unnecessarily restrictive, making no exceptions even in cases of rape or incest, and inserting government in a very private and personal health decision best left to a woman, her family, and her doctor,” said Debbie Wasserman, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

"Forty years after the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, it's a shame that we must continue to fend off attempts to curb access to health care for women,” Wasserman said.

The initiative was pushed by a pair of prolife activists who moved to New Mexico from Kansas, a hotbed of antiabortion activism, and tried to shut down Southwestern Women's Options, one of a handful of clinics in the country that provide later-term abortions.

"When we moved here three years ago, our goal was just to bring awareness to what was happening here,” said Tara Shaver, who vowed she and her husband would never back down. “This is a little deviation from that. We're going to move forward and keep focusing on that and keep strengthening our effort in the streets.”

Watch this video report posted online by KRQE-TV: