Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Grant McGee
The Staff of The News 

Clovis passes anti-abortion ordinance

 

January 11, 2023



CLOVIS — An anti-abortion ordinance designed to keep abortion clinics from setting up shop in Clovis will become the city’s newest ordinance with a 7-0 vote of approval at Thursday’s regular session of the city commission.

District 2 Commissioner Lauren Rowley abstained from the vote.

“I still think we need to wait until after the legislative session,” Rowley said of her abstention after the meeting. 

The proposed ordinance was tabled the first time it came up for a vote in November. An attempt to un-table the matter failed at a December regular session of the commission.

District 1 Commissioner Juan Garza put the “un-tabling” of the ordinance on last week’s meeting agenda. The un-tabling was the first item on the agenda regarding the ordinance. That matter passed by a 7-1 vote with Rowley voting “no” on the matter.

Mayor Mike Morris spoke before the ordinance came up for a vote.

“This is not a ‘sanctuary city for the unborn’ ordinance,” Morris said. “It never has been which has led to much confusion due to so many calling it that.”

“‘Sanctuary City’ implies an outright prohibition on abortion. In fact, the ordinance creates a license application process for abortion providers to obtain a business license,” he said.

Morris went on to repeat the main tenets of the ordinance: Compliance with a federal law known as a Comstock law.

The federal law referenced involves an 1873 Comstock law that prohibits publicizing, distributing or possessing information about or medication or other tools for “unlawful” contraception or abortions.

Laura Wight of the progressive group Eastern New Mexico Rising spoke to the commission before the ordinance came up for a vote, noting a portion of the Comstock law, the part about using the U.S. Mail for delivery of abortion items, has just been nullified by a court ruling in the past couple of weeks.

During discussion on the ordinance, Mayor Pro Tem Chris Bryant said the ordinance could be amended regarding the ruling on the Comstock law.

After the meeting, Morris said, “The Department of Justice opinion confirming the U.S. Post Office can deliver abortion pills are examples of the complexity of this issue.”

“Our public meetings have become all about this issue,” Morris said. “Consider how this has become such a distraction.”

City manager Justin Howalt said the ordinance will go into effect in a matter of days.

“The ordinance will go into effect five days after it is published,” Howalt said after the commission meeting.

Howalt said no abortion clinics have applied to open in Clovis to his knowledge.

Clovis now joins Hobbs and Lea County in passage of an anti-abortion ordinance.

A slightly different ordinance comes before the Roosevelt County Commission this week. The Roosevelt County ordinance requires civil action by the county citizenry for enforcement.

 
 

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