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New Mexico governor commits $10 million to building new abortion clinic near Texas border

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order Wednesday committing $10 million to build a new reproductive health care clinic near the state's border with Texas.

The future clinic is set to be located in Doña Ana County, just northwest of El Paso, Texas, and will offer "the full spectrum of reproductive health care" – including abortion.

“As more states move to restrict and prohibit access to reproductive care, New Mexico will continue to not only protect access to abortion, but to expand and strengthen reproductive health care throughout the state,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “Today, I reaffirm my resolve to make sure that women and families in New Mexico – and beyond – are supported at every step of the way.”

In addition to abortion, the clinic will provide regular preventative care and other pregnancy services.

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In a livestreamed news conference to sign the order, the governor noted that New Mexico has already seen an influx of people seeking abortions in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade – as abortions have ceased in neighboring Texas and other states with "trigger" bans.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, center, announced an executive order aimed at ensuring safe harbor to people seeking abortions or providing abortions at health care facilities within the state, at a news conference in Santa Fe, N.M., on Monday, June 27, 2022.

In June, Lujan Grisham signed an executive order barring state agencies or their employees from assisting criminal investigations by other states into providers or patients related to abortion services in New Mexico. 

Last year, state lawmakers repealed a dormant 1969 statute that outlawed most abortion procedures as felonies, ensuring access to abortion after the Supreme Court's June ruling.

Lujan Grisham's Wednesday move comes just 10 weeks before the Nov. 8 election, when the Democrat will face her Republican challenger Mark Ronchetti. The GOP candidate advocates limiting legal abortion to 15 weeks or cases of rape, incest and where a mother's life is in jeopardy.

“Using taxpayer dollars to enable and fund abortion up until the point of birth is not only out of line with New Mexican values, it is extreme,” Ronchetti said in a statement after Wednesday's executive order.

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The Doña Ana clinic announcement was part of an executive order the governor presented alongside several state legislators and the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women.

The governor's order also directs the state health department to develop plans for expanding reproductive health care access in underserved areas of New Mexico, work towards making abortion medication available in public clinics and reduce wait times across the state.

Supporters hope that the plan brings much-needed resources to historically underserved areas of the state – especially as New Mexico still struggles with insufficient medical facilities and providers for its population, particularly in southern region's remote and rural locations.

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“The southern part of New Mexico has lacked access to the full spectrum of reproductive healthcare for generations. Directing money to help our southern New Mexico families is critical for patient care,” Kayla Herring, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said in a statement.

“Our governor is a public health champion who understands that abortion care is health care,” said state Rep. Joanne Ferrary. “We want to thank her for allocating money to southern New Mexico, which has great need for these services.”

Lujan Grisham's $10 million commitment will come from her executive capital allocation funds. The discretionary funds will come from appropriations during New Mexico's 2023 legislative session which will open Jan. 17. As of Wednesday, the governor said no location or fiscal agent to handle the funds had been selected for the clinic yet.

Algernon D'Ammassa is a reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News, part of the USA TODAY Network.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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