New Mexico’s governor signs bill protecting access to reproductive and gender-affirming care into law

(CNN) New Mexico Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill Thursday that would bar local municipalities and other public bodies from interfering with a person’s ability to access reproductive or gender-affirming health services.

HB7, the Reproductive and Gender Health Care Freedom Act, also prohibits public bodies from imposing laws, ordinances, policies or regulations that prevent patients from receiving reproductive or gender care.

The move comes after federal abortion rights were repealed last year and after several states passed measures to prevent minors from accessing gender-affirming care.

Gender-affirming care is medically necessary, evidence-based care that uses a multidisciplinary approach to help a person transition from their assigned gender — the one a person was assigned at birth — to their affirmed gender — – the gender by which one wants to be known.

“New Mexicans in every corner of our state deserve protection for their bodily autonomy and right to health care,” Lujan Grisham said in a news release. “I am grateful for the hard work of the Legislature and community partners in getting this critical legislation across the finish line.”

Any violation of the law could result in a fine of $5,000 or damages, whichever is greater, according to the bill.

The law follows ordinances that several municipalities in the state had previously passed related to access to abortion care after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer.

While abortion is legal in New Mexico, several GOP-led states have introduced or passed measures restricting abortion, including Texas and Oklahoma, which have banned the procedure at all stages of pregnancy with limited exceptions. In response, New Mexico, which borders the two states, allocated $10 million to build a new abortion clinic near the Texas border.

Several other Democratic-controlled states have moved to reaffirm reproductive care in response to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision.

Minnesota’s Democratic governor signed a bill earlier this year that enshrined the “fundamental right” of abortion access in the state. Last year, California passed several bills expanding access to abortion, including protecting abortion providers and patients seeking abortion treatment in the state from civil lawsuits initiated in another state.

As states take action, new legal challenges could further complicate abortion access in post- Roe America.

A federal court in Texas heard arguments this week to block the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, one of two drugs used in medical abortions that will account for more than half of abortions in the U.S. in 2020, according to the Guttmacher Institute . Although the Trump-appointed judge has not issued a ruling, he suggested during arguments that he was seriously considering revoking FDA approval.

Also at risk is access to gender-affirming care for trans youth, which LGBTQ advocates have long emphasized is life-saving health care.

This year, lawmakers in Tennessee, Mississippi, Utah and South Dakota passed legislation to limit minors’ access to such care.

In addition, more than 80 bills aimed at limiting access to gender-affirming care had been introduced across the country by early last month, according to data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union and shared with CNN.

CNN’s Devan Cole, Veronica Straqualursi, Sydney Kashiwagi and Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.

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