Tierna Unruh-Enos is publisher at The Paper.

Vote Ballot Box Hand Suit Vote  - pjedrzejczyk / Pixabay
pjedrzejczyk / Pixabay

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This story is updated to correct that the special meeting to pass the abortion ban in Alamogordo was held on August 2.

Last month, the Alamogordo City Commission heard two abortion opposition resolutions during a special meeting held on August 2, declaring the city a ‘sanctuary for the unborn’ which supported a similar resolution passed by the Otero County Commission in July.

A small group of citizens decided they would start a petition to gather signatures in hopes of forcing a special election to determine if the resolution should stand. The group gathered over 500 signatures and turned them in to the city clerk 10 days ago to verify.

This afternoon, the group of petitioners learned the fate of their petition when the city clerk’s office issued a letter stating that the petition did not garner enough valid signatures to force the measure on a special election ballot. Case closed.

The group has faced huge pushback from conservative pundits, including John Block, a blogger and the GOP nominee for state rep in Otero County. Block also attended the Jan. 6 Capitol riot but never faced charges. Block’s partner Karl Melton was recently appointed to a vacancy on the Alamogordo City Commission.

In an email sent out to supporters today, Block said “The pro-abort radicals are likely going to show up in full force and try and intimidate the commissioners, spewing vicious personal attacks and tired anti-life talking points.”

During the August 2 meeting Block made false claims that there are no medical reasons why a woman would ever need an abortion.

Access to abortion services is limited in Otero County and Alamogordo. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights advocacy organization, 91 percent of NM counties had “no clinics that provided abortions” in 2017, and 48 percent of New Mexico women lived in counties without clinics. Both of those percentages are higher than national averages despite Block’s claim that “NM taxpayers forked over a staggering amount for abortions in the past two years.”

Just three of New Mexico’s 33 counties statewide have clinics that provide abortion services: Bernalillo, Santa Fe and Doña Ana counties. Earlier this month, Governor Lujan Grisham pledged $10 million in state funds to open a reproductive health clinic that would also provide abortion access in Doña Ana County.