by: Curtis Segarra
SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare have been hot topics of debate in this year’s legislative session. Earlier this week, the Senate passed a bill to limit the ability of state agencies to interfere with reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare. Now, they’ve passed a complimentary bill to protect healthcare providers.
Senate Bill 13, sponsored by Democratic Legislators, aims to protect doctors and healthcare providers from civil and criminal liability for providing care that falls under “protected activity.” That includes assisting a person seeking reproductive or gender-affirming healthcare by providing information, transportation, lodging, or material support.
“As things stand now, New Mexico holds a moral imperative to safeguard the right to gender-affirming care,” bill co-sponsor Siah Correa Hemphill (D – Catron, Grant & Socorro) said in a press release. “Studies show this spectrum of social, psychological, behavioral, and medical care saves lives. As a mother, an educator and a legislator, I have never been in the business of getting between a patient, their medical provider, and critical care. I do not intend to start today.”
Not everyone saw the bill as a step forward for New Mexico. Sen. William E. Sharer (R-San Juan) expressed concern that the bill would expand abortions in the state: “We’re already the late-term abortion capital of America. We don’t need to become the ‘after-birth’ abortion capital of America too,” he told the Senate.
Debate on the subject was heated. After voting on the bill closed, Sen. Craig W Brandt (R-Sandoval) threatened to file ethics complaints against others if debate continued to lack decorum. “I’m told because I’m male, that I should keep my mouth shut on this subject,” Sen. Craig W Brandt (R-Sandoval) said. “My constituents didn’t elect me to come to the Senate and keep my mouth shut. . . these are issues that are emotional to both sides of the aisle.”
The bill was approved by the Senate on a 26-to-16 vote. Next, it heads to the House for more debate.