A Critical Abortion Battle Is Being Fought In New Mexico Right Now


You may not have heard about it. I hadn’t until last night. But today in Albuquerque, New Mexico, city residents are voting on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance — a measure that would, according to National Right to Life News, “protect pain-capable unborn children from death by abortion.”

This would mean a late-term (20 weeks gestation and later) abortion ban in the city that is considered the “late-term abortion capital of the country.” Over $177,000 in taxpayer dollars were spent on abortions in Albuquerque in 2012 alone. The city is almost 50% Hispanic. Following voter demographics, this means it leans significantly Democratic. Those opposed to the ban are outspending pro-lifers by a factor of 4-1 in their attempts to canvass the city and influence public opinion. It is the first time in America that residents of a city will have the opportunity to vote directly on this issue, and it has become a battleground for hearts and minds.

Despite all of this, something strange is happening: supporters of the ban are winning. From the Washington Free Beacon:

[A] September poll taken by the Albuquerque Journal found that voters supported the ban 54-39, making late term abortion less popular among residents than Mitt Romney was in 2012. Nearly 60 percent of Hispanic voters supported the ban, as did 35 percent of Democrats.

“When voters are confronted with the reality of late term abortion, they recoil at that,” Buchanan says by way of explaining the poll results.

But that was before the flood. Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, NARAL, and Organizing for America have quietly dumped more than $800,000 into Albuquerque, controlling a near monopoly on television advertising. Professional activists have been bused in from Arizona and Colorado to help union members canvass Albuquerque neighborhoods using the technology that carried Obama to victory in 2012.

The ban’s supporters are being outspent 4-1 even with a last-minute, six-figure push from Susan B. Anthony List. And that’s not their only disadvantage. At one point I asked volunteer coordinator Peter Zeikus about the phone bank.

“We’ve got the most advanced system in the world working for us. It’s called I-360—the same one McCain used,” he says.

Susan B. Anthony List campaign manager Andy Blom is fond of saying, “They may be bigger than us, but they’re faster too.”


Nine months ago the ballot initiative was a fantasy shared by four people. The idea sprang up in February 2013 when former political strategist Elisa Martinez pitched Catholic activist Sarah Wilson and “anti-abortion ambassadors” Bud and Tara Shaver on the concept of putting the fetal pain ban to a popular vote. They began knocking on doors to gather the necessary 12,100 signatures to get on the ballot in late spring. They turned in 27,000 in August.

“We have a core group of dedicated supporters that’s spent 12 hours a day to reach voters in the city for months,” Martinez says. “People, even pro-choice people, realize there’s something wrong with the killing of babies that are viable or on the cusp of viability.”


This fight is far from over. National Right to Life News reported yesterday that there  had already been significantly more early-voting activity than there was in the the mayoral race:

The office of the Albuquerque city clerk said almost 44,000 Albuquerque voters have already cast ballots early in person, “twice as high as the mayoral election where 21,000 voters cast early ballots in what turned out to be a low-turnout election,” according to the New Mexico Telegram.There is no reason to doubt that the final tally will be extremely close.

We need to pray for the people of Albuquerque, that they will be open to truth and that they will vote to defend the defenseless. If you know anyone in Albuquerque, find out if they are aware of this issue and urge them to get out and vote.

This ballot initiative is of national importance. Allowing people to vote directly on such bans really brings the abortion issue to the doorstep of the individual citizen. If the vote for the ban succeeds — particularly in a city as deeply pro-abortion as Albuquerque — would set the stage for similar successful initiatives in cities across America.

I’ve said for a while that I believe the tide is turning on this issue. Local elections like this are where the larger victory starts.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


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