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Lujan Grisham talks reproductive health care with CNN host

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, pictured in 2019, spoke with CNN host Sara Sidner on Tuesday about reproductive health care. Russell Contreras/AP File Photo

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham warned that banning contraceptives “could be next” when talking to a CNN host about New Mexico’s border and abortion issues.

Lujan Grisham spoke with CNN host Sara Sidner on Tuesday. Sidner asked Lujan Grisham about how New Mexico has been affected by being situated between Texas, which has banned abortion with few exceptions and Arizona, which has a 15-week abortion ban in effect. Recently Arizona fought over the right to keep the 15-week ban rather than revert to an 1864 territorial law that would have banned abortion completely.

Lujan Grisham said New Mexico has experienced “an influx” of women from other states who “have no other choice than to travel to New Mexico.” She also highlighted her allocation of $10 million to fund a reproductive health care clinic that will include abortion services in Las Cruces to help with the increase in abortion patients traveling from out of state.

The University of New Mexico Board of Regents recently approved land acquisition for the clinic and the clinic is expected to be operational by October 2025.

Lujan Grisham told Sidner the overall effect created by the influx of abortion patients traveling from other states is that New Mexico women “don’t have as much access” to abortion. Lujan Grisham said another effect is that individuals coming from other states are arriving with more serious medical conditions because of the additional time required to plan a trip to New Mexico to receive reproductive health care.

The Guttmacher Institute, which provides reproductive health research information, found that as of December 2023, New Mexico experienced one of the largest increases in interstate travel for abortion in the U.S. and notes that both Texas and Oklahoma have total bans with very narrow exceptions on abortion.

The Guttmacher Institute found that over a six-month period in 2023, 8,230 patients traveled to New Mexico for an abortion. Since 2020, the increase in abortions due to travel from out-of-state patients is 87%, according to Guttmacher.

Lujan Grisham also said “we’re not focused on maternal health in this country.”

“This is a disaster,” she said.

A survey conducted by KFF, an independent health policy research organization, found that one year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, four in 10 OB-GYN doctors located in states where abortion is banned, said they were constrained in caring for pregnant patients who were experiencing miscarriage or pregnancy-related emergencies. Six in 10 of those OB-GYN doctors said they had concerns about legal risks when providing patient care.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office for the Health and Human Services Department released a report in February 2024 stating that the U.S. is experiencing a maternal health crisis and that it has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality rates among high-income nations. The maternal mortality rates are far higher for women of color than for white women in the U.S.

Lujan Grisham said former President Donald Trump “said he was going to do it. He’s going to keep doing it,” if reelected in the November 2024 general election. She said Trump is “bowing to extremists that are rolling back constitutional rights for women and their families” and that contraceptives “are next.”

She said “look at the fights around IVF,” referring to the recent Alabama Supreme Court decision which ruled that embryos created through in vitro fertilization should be considered children. That decision forced a shutdown of IVF clinics in Alabama. Shortly after, Alabama passed a bill that protects Alabama providers from criminal and civil liability if embryo cells created through IVF treatments are lost or damaged. But the Alabama law did not address the “personhood” ruling the Alabama Supreme Court made.

When Sidner brought up that some Republicans have walked back their positions on IVF treatment, Lujan Grisham said “they’re not thoughtful about this.”

“This isn’t policy, this is politics,” she said.

Trump said on Tuesday that he was open to regulations on contraception but later said his comments were misinterpreted, according to the Associated Press.

The Republican Party of New Mexico issued a statement after Lujan Grisham’s interview aired and claimed that Lujan Grisham called Trump “an extremist” and that the label is a lie.

Lujan Grisham and Sidner also talked about the border New Mexico shares with Mexico. Lujan Grisham said she wants “common sense, smart” border policy that would allow for agriculture and other products the U.S. is dependent upon to continue to come from Mexico but she also wants policy that will enable border personnel to detect illegal substances as they are transported over the border.

Lujan Grisham also praised the Joe Biden administration for allowing over-the-counter contraception to be available, as one way of combating the crisis around abortion.

NM Political Report is a nonprofit public news outlet providing in-depth and enterprise reporting on the people and politics across New Mexico.