ALBUQUERQUE, NM, November 19, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Tuesday’s municipal election in Albuquerque is a historic first: It will be the first time in U.S. history that voters in a city will get the chance to weigh in directly on whether late-term abortions should be legal in their town.
On the ballot in Tuesday’s election is the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance, which would ban virtually all abortions in Albuquerque after 20 weeks of pregnancy, when medical expertssay unborn children can feel pain. The bill makes only one exception, and that is to save the life of the mother.
Albuquerque is one of only a few cities in the United States where late-term abortions are legally performed. Two out of the four abortionists in the nation who publicly admit to performing late-term abortions practice in the city, which has become known as the “abortion capital of the Southwest” because women travel from all over the region to end their babies’ lives there at the Southwestern Women’s Optionsclinic.
If the ordinance passes, the facility will be forced to either stop performing late-term abortions, or relocate – no easy feat for a business that makes its money killing nearly full-term infants.
The referendum was launched by petition after pro-life leaders tried and failed to pass restrictions on abortion in the state legislature, which is controlled by pro-abortion Democrats. Those bills were all killed in committee, so pro-life activists decided to put the issue to the people, collecting 27,000 signatures in just a few weeks’ time to force the issue onto the municipal ballot.
Democratic Sen. Cisco McSorely told the Albuquerque Journal he sees the referendum as a dangerous attempt to bypass the elected legislature.
“It sets a really bad precedent,” McSorley, told the Journal. “The people that vote for this have got to understand that if this is the way things are going to be done by special interests in the future, we are opening the floodgates to every special interest in the country to come in here and write things into our City Charter that will make it impossible to govern Albuquerque.”
But Sen. Bill Sharer told the Journal he sees the referendum as a “perfect approach” for concerned citizens who are tired of being stonewalled by elected officials.
“A relatively small group of people in Albuquerque clearly made the decision that the Legislature’s absolute refusal to protect human beings was unacceptable and we will find another way to do it,” Sharer told the Journal. “I think they viewed all of us as failures and decided they were going to do it themselves.”
The ordinance’s supporters and critics alike agree that the results of the vote could have national impact. If the measure succeeds, it will not only send a powerful message to federal legislators, but pro-life activists may use it as a model to pass similar bans in cities throughout the nation.
“[Tuesday’s] vote is historic,” said Mark Harrington, Executive Director of Created Equal, a pro-life group. “Residents of Albuquerque are standing up to defend their own children. We must stand with and learn from their bold example.”
“From a political standpoint, there are national implications to this campaign,” said Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy adviser for Operation Rescue. “If the ordinance can win in this blue-state community, it will send a strong message to Washington that the people want and need a similar ban on late-term abortions at the Federal level.”
Said Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, “This vote, along with other local initiatives, is just another clear example of how the pro-life movement will overturn Roe v. Wade. That is grassroots efforts chipping away at Roe's foundations until there is nothing left. The new 'template' for ending abortion is moving away from Washington, D.C. and federal solutions and focusing on local efforts where our strength and support has always been strongest.”
The national pro-abortion lobby has come to the aid of Albuquerque’s late-term abortionists, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to try and stop the measure. Planned Parenthood spent $300,000 and the ACLU spent $200,000, according to campaign finance reports. NARAL Pro-Choice America spent thousands, as well. Organizing for Action, President Obama’s national network of local activists, has also been actively campaigning against the ordinance.
“What we will see [on] Election Day … is whether the abortion cartel’s big money will overrule the will of the people,” said Sullenger. “We know from recent polls that 54% of the people of Albuquerque want to end abortions after 20 weeks when the babies are known to feel pain.”
So far, turnout has been historic, with over 25,000 ballots having been cast by Nov. 12 via early voting. Sullenger said that because early votes often trend conservative, that’s good news for Albuquerque’s late-term unborn children.
But pro-abortion forces won’t go down without a fight.
“This has been seen as a threat to our city from the very beginning, and we’ve taken it very seriously since the beginning,” Rachael Maestas, of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance at the University of New Mexico, told the pro-abortion RH Reality Check blog. She said it didn’t matter that the ordinance targeted only late-term abortions. “Any restriction on abortion is still a restriction on our rights.”
The ACLU has promised to sue to block the law’s enforcement if it passes.
State Attorney General Gary King, a Democrat, called the measure “unconstitutional and unenforceable,” and says he believes it is likely to be overturned in court. He said voters would have to decide whether it was worth it to them to “bear the protracted expense of litigation” just to make their voices heard on the issue of late-term abortion.