Yesterday's defeat of the first-ever municipal abortion ban in the city of Albuquerque marks a major victory for women's health and shows that voters don't want to take personal medical decisions out of the hands of women and their doctors. If enacted, the referendum would have banned abortions at 20 weeks, even for victims of rape and incest, severe fetal abnormalities and when a woman's health is in danger.
Electoral returns show that Albuquerque voters turned out in droves for a special municipal election — exceeding the turnout in a recent mayoral election by 17,000 votes — to reject the abortion ban by 10 points. The victory comes after polling in early September showed support for the measure exceeding opposition by 15 points.
Nearly 99 percent of abortions in the U.S. occur before 21 weeks' gestation. When abortion later in pregnancy does happen, it is often in a situation where a woman and her doctor need every medical option available.
But this ballot measure was not about the very rare cases where abortion happens later in pregnancy — it was part of a coordinated strategy to ban abortion in all 50 states. The abortion ban rejected by Albuquerque voters last night is nearly identical to an abortion ban recently introduced in the U.S. Senate that passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.
Albuquerque Spoke Loud and Clear — the Public Doesn't Want the Government Dictating a Woman's Deeply Personal Decisions.
Let this be a lesson to Congress and all 50 states: Yesterday the people of Albuquerque rejected an extreme agenda pushed by out-of-touch, out-of-state groups that want to end safe and legal abortion altogether. Opposition to the measure came from all corners of the city. Dolores Huerta, national civil rights activist, labor leader, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, and native New Mexican kicked off the get out the vote canvass this week, and Albuquerque City Councilor Rey Garduño and State Representative Christine Trujillo were key local leaders who rallied opposition to the ban from the start.
Like the majority of Americans, New Mexicans believe these are complex decisions that should remain between a woman, her doctor and her family. Albuquerque decisively voted no on the abortion ban, saying loud and clear that government has no place in these personal and complex decisions facing New Mexican families.
Having a Real Conversation with Voters Leads to Victory
Planned Parenthood organizations in New Mexico and around the country donated their time to have a conversation with voters across the city. Through weeks of outreach, the Respect ABQ Women Campaign had nearly 68,000 conversations with voters, including 21,266 conversations at voters' doors and 17,935 conversations with voters on the phones.
This winning strategy confirms what we've seen in recent national polling — when voters understand the real-world circumstances surrounding abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy, they reject measures like the one voted down in Albuquerque last night. This poll also shows that the overwhelming majority of voters say this is the wrong issue for Congress and state legislators to be spending time on.
It Is Clear that Ballot Measures Attacking Women's Health Are Bad Policy and Bad Politics
This layered strategy designed to educate voters about what was at stake for women's health on Election Day succeeded in Albuquerque and in recent defeats of recent anti-women's health ballot measures in states across the country. In fact, time and again, when they are forced to cast a vote on a ballot measure on women's health, the public votes to ensure health decisions are left to a woman in consultation with her family and her doctor — not the government.
- By a 10-point margin in November 2012, voters in Florida defeated Amendment 6, which if enacted would have taken private health care coverage away from women, and banned public insurance from covering abortion, even if it was necessary to protect a woman's health.
- Voters in Mississippi — the most conservative state in the union — defeated a "personhood" ballot initiative by a 16-point margin in 2011 and "personhood" was defeated twice by Colorado voters, first in 2008 and again in 2010 — and by a three-to-one margin. "Personhood" supporters in Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, California, Oregon, and Montana failed to get enough signatures to get on the November 2012 ballot.
- The defeat of Measure Three, the so-called "Religious Liberties Restoration Amendment," by nearly 30 points in North Dakota in 2012's summer primary marked a major victory for women's health care and represented a decisive warning for those seeking to make religious refusal of health services a political issue, even in conservative states.
- Similarly, the defeat of ballot measures that would have banned nearly all abortions in South Dakota in 2006 and 2008 shows that voters stand with women and their personal decision making in the privacy of the ballot box.