Anti-Choice Ballot Initiative Spark Electoral System Changes in New Mexico

In a victory for women and personal freedom, Albuquerque voters recently rejected a measure that would have banned all abortions in the city after twenty weeks, with no exceptions for rape, incest or medical emergencies.  The referendum would have been the first of its kind on a municipal level, but New Mexico voters rejected the infringement on women’s rights and proved that the increasing efforts by the anti-choice movement to chip away at personal freedoms is not welcomed by citizens.  Courts across the nation have previously thrown out similar state laws, which are based on controversial science and blatantly violate U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

Although the residents of Albuquerque rejected the anti-choice measure, the proposal could still have a significant effect on voters.  City officials revealed that the anti-choice initiative and two previous initiatives have cost the city $1.2 million this year.  As a result, the mayor and several city council members are now beginning discussions about altering the voting process, including an increase in the number of voter signatures required and a review of the initiative’s legal validity before it reaches voters.  Recent initiatives have also raised questions of enforcement, and, in the case of the anti-choice proposal, the cost of defense.  If the initiative had passed, the city would have been forced to cover the costs of defending the law, which would likely have been ultimately ruled unconstitutional. 

Albuquerque is the first city to consider such an anti-choice measure, but a growing trend on the state level is already costing taxpayers millions of dollars.  Kansas, for instance, has spent almost $1 million defending anti-choice legislation this year, with other states such as Idaho and South Dakota also setting aside millions to defend laws that have been struck down by the courts or are largely expected to be.  

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