ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Voters in New Mexico’s largest city rejected a ban on late-term abortions Tuesday in a municipal election that was being closely watched as a possible new front in the national abortion fight.
The special election followed an emotional and graphic campaign that brought in national groups and hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising. The campaign included protests that compared abortion to the holocaust and displayed pictures of aborted fetuses.
Activists on both sides of the issue said it was the first municipal ballot measure on the matter, which usually is debated at the state and federal level. Abortion opponents hoped a victory in Albuquerque would create momentum nationally in their long-running fight to ban abortion.
Albuquerque became the focus of the latest anti-abortion campaign because it is home to Southwestern Women’s Options, one of just a handful of clinics in the country that perform late-term abortions. The proposal would ban abortions after 20 weeks except to save the mother’s life.
A leader of the initiative, Tara Shaver, said her group gathered signatures to put the issue to voters after failing to make headway in the Democrat-controlled Legislature.
Asked if other cities with late-term abortion clinics might be targeted in the future, Shaver said, “We are encouraging people to see what can be done at the city level. … We are starting to get calls from people asking us how to do what we have done.”