Reproductive Rights


A Woman’s Right to End a Pregnancy

In 2013, the Southwest Women’s Law Center worked with a coalition of organizations to defeat a harmful and deceptive ballot measure that would have banned access to a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion. The SWLC is proud to have been a part of this coalition and its of its efforts to defeat this first-of-its kind in the nation municipal ballot measure to limit  women’s rights to reproductive health care. This win is a testimony to the strength of local organizations that have been building a strong movement for justice in New Mexico for many years.  The SWLC  is pleased to have been a part of a campaign that provided accurate information and acknowledged the complexity of decision-making around abortion.  Our coalition reminded voters that these decisions should be in the hands of women in consultation with their family, their doctor and their faith.

Many organizations and hundreds of volunteers made the victory possible possible.  The New Mexico Coalition for Choice  (members listed below) formed the Respect ABQ Women Campaign and trusted the following members to guide these efforts:  ACLU of New Mexico, New Mexico NOW, New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Planned Parenthood of New Mexico, Southwest Women’s Law Center, Strong Families New Mexico, and Young Women United.  These and other supportive organizations worked to ensure that our campaign was engaging in respectful conversations with voters across the city.  Together we led a campaign that was truly New Mexican:  it reflected the lived experiences of our communities and ensured that communities of color, people of faith and young people were deeply engaged in all aspects of the campaign. The Respect Albuquerque Women Campaign and Southwest Women’s Law Center also grateful to all the donors and the national affiliates that provided support throughout the campaign to ensure that local New Mexico leaders had the resources we needed to defeat the measure.

As we celebrate our victory, we must be ever vigilant to ensure that our communities can continue to protect the values that they expressed in this election.  Each year, anti-abortion forces introduce legislation designed to eliminate access to safe and legal abortions.   While this election is over, the SWLC and its partners are committed to mobilizing the resources we built during the campaign to increase access to the rights, resources and recognition that women and families need to thrive.

NM Coalition for Choice Organizations:  American Association of University Women, American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, League of Women Voters of New Mexico, New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, New Mexico Women’s Agenda, New Mexico National Organization for Women (Santa Fe and Albuquerque Chapters), Planned Parenthood of New Mexico, Southwest Women’s Law Center, Southwestern Women’s Options, Strong Families, Young Women United


Sexuality Education

The Southwest Women’s Law Center (SWLC) believes that all young people in New Mexico need to receive age–appropriate, medically accurate comprehensive sexuality education and access to reproductive health services. As our state struggles to cope with high rates of teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and diseases, and domestic violence and sexual assault, it is imperative that New Mexico’s youth receive the information and resources they need to make healthy life decisions.


Emergency Contraception

The Southwest Women’s Law Center is committed to ensuring the women have access to comprehensive family planning services and information. One of SWLC’s earliest initiatives was to partner with local and national organizations to increase access to emergency contraception (EC), a form of back up birth control that is effective at preventing pregnancy up to 72 hours after intercourse. EC is a critically important form of contraception that can help women prevent unintended pregnancies when they are sexually assaulted, when their birth control fails, or when birth control was not used. SWLC played a critical leadership role in advocating for and participating in a major study of EC by the New Mexico Health Policy Commission in 2007. It has also worked hard to ensure that EC is available to low-income women through the State’s Medicaid program and family planning programs

Emergency contraception is not an abortion pill. Emergency contraception does not interrupt or harm an existing pregnancy. Emergency contraception is safe and effective and an important form of birth control.

SWLC will continue to advocate for access to EC as it works with its national and local partners to develop new strategies to help ensure that all women who need and seek family planning services are able to access and obtain regular forms of birth control on an ongoing basis.

For a copy of the full report and recommendations by the New Mexico Health Policy Commission regarding Emergency Contraception, click here.

As part of its efforts to ensure that all women, regardless of race, income, geographic location or immigration status, have access to family planning services, the Southwest Women’s Law Center launched an effort to increase eligibility and utilization of a special Medicaid program know as the “Family Planning Waiver”. SWLC’s work focuses on the complex regulatory issues that confront the state health care providers and patients in implementing and maximizing participation in this important public program. SWLC anticipates continuing its work to expand New Mexico’s Family Planning Waiver and will seek opportunities to identify and eliminate barriers facing women seeking healthcare services under government benefits programs.


Family Planning Benefits in New Mexico


Medicaid’s Family Planning Waiver: How Do We Increase Access?


What is the Medicaid family planning waiver?
Medicaid allows states to waive the regular Medicaid income requirements so that women who do not qualify for full Medicaid benefits still qualify for family planning services. New Mexico’s waiver program covers women up to 185% of the federal poverty level ($32,560 for a family of three).

Providing family planning to women is sound fiscal policy for the state of New Mexico.
For every $1 New Mexico invests in family planning services, the U.S. government matches $9. For every $1 spent to avoid unintended pregnancies, the government saves $4 on Medicaid-funded pregnancy related care.

The need for family planning benefits is great.
Approximately 140,000 New Mexican women of reproductive age are in need of publicly funded family planning services. Nearly one-third of reproductive age women in New Mexico are uninsured. While other states with family planning waivers serve more than 70% of eligible women, New Mexico’s waiver program serves less than 20% of eligible women.

How can New Mexico meet this need and maximize the federal match for family planning?
The low number of eligible women benefiting from the family planning waiver is a community problem that we must address together. Steps include:

  • Implement point-of-service, same-day enrollment for family planning waiver program enrollees, just as the state has for pregnancy-related care, breast and cervical cancer, and children; eventually allow for presumptive eligibility. This includes reimbursing providers for the application assistance that they provide to clients in lieu of sending clients to an Income Support Division office.
  • Simplify the application so that it is not as difficult for enrollees as the full Medicaid application.
  • Conduct outreach and education to providers, and potential and current enrollees.
  • In a better economy, expand New Mexico’s income eligibility to 200% of the federal poverty level, as other states have.
  • Include all income eligible women, regardless of age.
    To join the effort to increase the number of eligible women accessing family planning services, contact

Will Medicaid Expansion Cover Family Planning and Maternity Care Benefits?

Yes! On January 1, 2014, New Mexico will be expanding full coverage Medicaid to adults ages 19-64 who make less than 138% of the federal poverty level (about $16,000 for an individual and about $32,500 for a family of four). This expanded Medicaid coverage will include family planning services and maternity care benefits. The Southwest Women’s Law Center continues to advocate that the state of New Mexico continue its current, higher levels of coverage for family planning and maternity care Medicaid Coverage.

For more information about where you can get enrolled in Medicaid Coverage, please visit the New Mexico Income Support Division website. Or enroll online at Yes!New Mexico.