On page 104 of House Bill 505, the capital outlay budget, it is written in clear black and white:
"The following amounts are appropriated from the general fund to the department of finance and administration for expenditure in fiscal years 2023 through 2027, unless otherwise provided in Section 1 of this act, for the following purposes:
1. ten million dollars ($10,000,000) to plan, design and construct a reproductive health clinic in Dona Ana county;"
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in her re-election campaign bid last summer pledged to commit $10 million in state funds for an abortion clinic in Doña Ana County. So here it is.
Like millions of women nationwide, I have many concerns about the impact of the repeal of Roe v. Wade on women's health care. While not an abortion advocate, I think it must be legal and I am worried that some routine procedures, like a D&C after a miscarriage, may become harder to obtain in this new post-Roe environment.
But I didn't expect New Mexico, already in the quixotic position of being a very Catholic state with virtually no limits on abortion access, to take state money and build another abortion clinic. For Texans.
"The goal here is, build it, and they will come," the governor said after she signed the executive order pledging the $10 million.
You can't get much clearer than that.
Of all the lists New Mexico is on, number one for abortion isn't a goal of mine.
I'm not a fan of state-funded abortion for a number of reasons. The first is the most basic, and why I don't support the death penalty: it's just not a good idea to give the government the power to end life. Bad outcomes are inevitable.
I'm also concerned about how the clinic will be operated. All the executive order and the capital outlay bill say is that it will be built. Who will operate it? Where will that funding come from?
Given the general ineptitude of state government in recent years in performing basic functions like new business registration, client intake for food stamp qualification or unemployment benefits, or sensitive and crucial ones like operating a child welfare system, I am not sure women's reproductive health, to include abortion, is a function I want the State of New Mexico to take on.
And I get it. We're not doing it for New Mexico. We're doing it for Texas and Arizona, where access to abortion care has been eliminated or become extremely limited. But shouldn't this be a private effort? Texas providers have already said they will open clinics in New Mexico. Fine. Let that happen on a private basis.
I'll say it. I don't feel great about my state tax dollars going to a clinic that may or may not be competently run to provide abortions to women coming in from out of state. I don't think this is a particularly extreme view.
I have seen exactly zero news coverage of this capital outlay line item since the legislative session started. Six Democrats crossed the aisle to vote with Republicans to remove the abortion clinic funding from HB 505 last weekend, but the Republicans needed six more to remove the line item. The capital outlay bill passed the Senate Finance committee on Tuesday and the entire Senate Wednesday by a margin of 27-13.
The passage of HB 505 will put New Mexico in the national spotlight. Is this the spotlight we want?
Merritt Hamilton Allen is a PR executive and former Navy officer. She appears regularly as a panelist on NM PBS and is a frequent guest on News Radio KKOB. A Republican, she lives amicably with her Democratic husband north of I-40 where they run two head of dog, and two of cat. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.