By Daniel Montaño, Managing Editor | Phot Courtesy of Facebook.com
Because there are so many varied opinions and personal motivations within the group of people opposed to the upcoming ballot measure, Respect ABQ Women has taken an eclectic approach to lead the charge in striking the ballot down, Micaela Cadena, Respect ABQ Women member and policy director at Young Women United, said.
Respect ABQ Women is a coalition of local groups, including men and women, the young and the old, religious or not, families and individuals, dedicated to protecting women’s right to make private medical decisions regarding their own body and, Cadena said.
“For us, it’s really about each family being respected and trusted to make the best decisions for themselves,” she said.
The real issue at stake for Cadena and other groups opposed to the ballot measure is not an issue of abortion, but one of personal responsibility and the right to have one’s own personal life and health free of government interference, she said.
Cadena said that regardless of one’s personal opinions on abortion, there should not be a law forcing anyone to fall in line with a particular belief.
“It’s not actually a debate between pro-choice and pro-life. It’s about accurate information and respectful conversations, because our families, for many reasons, don’t believe in government interference in our private lives,” she said.
Julianna Koob, a local Attorney who works with Planned Parenthood of New Mexico, which is also partnered with Respect ABQ Women, echoed Cadena’s sentiments, and added that the people within this coalition are New Mexico natives, who care about what happens within their home state, she said.
Koob’s comment reflects some of the controversy surrounding how the petition that this ballot measure is based upon was started — by groups of anti-abortion activists who came to New Mexico from other states specifically to lobby for a ban here in Albuquerque, she said.
“We’ve been protecting women’s access to reproductive healthcare for generations. We’re invested in New Mexico, and we’re not going anywhere after the elections,” Koob said.
Both Koob and Cadena also hold issue with the language of the ballot measure itself, they said.
“This ballot is completely misleading and biased,” Koob said.
The language of the proposed law does not allow exceptions for cases of rape, incest or complications, forcing women who are in these circumstances to carry the resulting pregnancy to term, Cadena said.
The law also does not allow for exception in the case of fetal anomaly, abnormalities or diseases that are found with the fetus in utero, meaning if this ballot passes, women will be forced to continue a pregnancy that would end with a child that could not survive outside of the womb anyway, Cadena said.
The way the law stands now, in cases such as these the woman in question has the option of ending the pregnancy, reducing the chances of complications and infections that can threaten her life or cause problems with future pregnancies, Cadena said.
“Many times these are wanted pregnancies, families are excited about the new beings that they’re going to bring into their family, and they have no options. These can be pregnancies that may never be viable outside of the womb,” Cadena said.
Some women do chose to complete the pregnancy even in the case of fetal anomaly, and that is exactly the freedom of choice that Respect ABQ Women and opponents of the ballot like Cadena are seeking by striking down this bill, she said.
“We cannot stand in a woman’s shoes. We cannot make those decisions for her. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in this situation,” she said.
Although the ordinance would allow for an abortion if the life of the mother is “endangered,” the language is vague and indistinct, Cadena said.
Respect ABQ Women representatives took the language of the ballot measure to Albuquerque physicians in order to determine if doctors could make a viable medical decision while keeping within the limits of the proposed law, Cadena said.
The physicians agreed that the language is so vague it effectively eliminates the possibility of ending a pregnancy if the woman’s life is in danger, Cadena said.
“When we brought the language of the ballot to medical professionals, they told us ‘we don’t know what this means. If you’re 30 seconds away from death can we perform a procedure then?’” Cadena said.
Doctors would be forced to make decisions about how to best keep a family healthy and well based on governmental oversight, not necessarily the option that is best for the woman, Koob said.
“A doctor should not have her hands tied when she is trying to get the best care to her patient,” Koob said.
For more information on Respect ABQ Women, or to get involved in their campaign, go to http://www.respectabqwomen.org.