The Southwest Women’s Law Center is committed to working with a Reproductive Justice framework. Not only does a Reproductive Justice framework encompass a full spectrum view of reproductive issues, but it is more reflective of the experiences and population of New Mexico.
Two primary frameworks are used for reproductive issues: Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Justice. The Reproductive Rights framework focuses primarily on abortion and contraception, positioning abortion as an individual’s personal and private choice. The Reproductive Justice framework focuses on 1) the right to have children, 2) the right not to have children, and 3) the right to raise the children we have in a safe and dignified manner.
The Reproductive Justice framework is not confined to abortion and contraception. It includes all aspects of the reproductive experience, including access to reproductive care for those with disabilities, menstruation, fertility treatments, surrogacy, and childcare.
Abortion is a key part of women’s liberty, equality, and economic security. But politicians keep passing laws to make it more difficult ― if not impossible ― for women to get an abortion. As of 2018, New Mexico does not have any major abortion restrictions—such as waiting periods, mandated parental involvement, or limitations on publicly funded abortions—often found in other states. Vigilance is needed to ensure that access to abortion and reproductive care are not hindered in New Mexico.
A Woman’s Right to End a Pregnancy
45 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that every woman has a constitutional right to an abortion. Today, our reproductive rights are at risk.
A few years ago, the Southwest Women’s Law Center (SWLC) worked with a coalition of organizations to defeat a harmful and deceptive ballot measure that 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 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 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 efforts remind voters that these decisions should be in the hands of women in consultation with their families, their doctor, and their faith.
As we celebrate our victory, we must be ever-vigilant to ensure that our communities can continue to protect the values expressed and reproductive rights. Annually, anti-abortion forces introduce legislation to eliminate access to safe and legal abortions. The SWLC and its partners are committed to mobilizing the coalition and resources we have built to increase access to the rights, resources, and recognition that women and families need to thrive.
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, New Mexico’s youth must receive the information and resources they need to make healthy life decisions.
The Southwest Women’s Law Center is committed to ensuring women have access to comprehensive family planning services and information. Getting and using birth control is vital for women’s health and ability to plan and control their lives.
One of SWLC’s earliest initiatives was to partner with local and national organizations to increase access to emergency contraception (EC), a form of backup 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 birth control fails, or when birth control is not used. Back in 2007, SWLC played a critical leadership role in advocating for and participating in a major study of EC by the New Mexico Health Policy Commission. For a copy of the full report and recommendations by the New Mexico Health Policy Commission regarding Emergency Contraception, click here. Since then, SWLC has worked hard to ensure that EC is available to low-income women through the State’s Medicaid 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 can access and obtain regular forms of birth control on an ongoing basis.
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, SWLC launched an effort to increase eligibility and utilization of a special Medicaid program known as the “Family Planning Waiver.” SWLC’s work focuses on the complex regulatory issues confronting the state healthcare 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 the 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 need 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 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 they provide instead of sending clients to an Income Support Division office.
- Simplifying the application is not as difficult for enrollees as the full Medicaid application.
- Conduct outreach and education to providers and potential and current enrollees.
- Expand New Mexico’s income eligibility to 200% of the federal poverty level in a better economy, 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.