If Mark Ronchetti doesn’t want politicians involved in women’s reproductive choices, there’s no need to seek a New Mexico constitutional amendment on abortion rights.
New Mexico already has a system of individual choice. Abortion is legal here. Women decide.
Women have other reasons for choosing abortions, but rape, incest and life of the mother are the exceptions most often allowed when general abortion bans are in place. Here, regardless of circumstance, women can make the call. If polls (and elections) are to be believed, most New Mexicans value this freedom and are wary of voting for politicians who would restrict women’s autonomy.
Ronchetti knows this. It’s why his campaign keeps returning to the issue of abortion. He must persuade enough voters that even if he is personally pro-life, he won’t completely upend the current system. At the same time, members of his base — the people who helped him win the GOP nomination — want more abortion restrictions. To many who call themselves pro-life, abortion should be restricted in all instances.
In recent days, Ronchetti has floated the idea that New Mexico should consider a constitutional amendment on the issue. Let the people decide, not politicians — that’s his argument.
The trouble with that proposal is people already are deciding, as individuals.
What’s more, Ronchetti has not provided detail on just what his constitutional amendment would include, cloaking the issue as something the Legislature must decide. That’s absolutely true, but it’s not enough to say, “Hey, let’s pass an amendment.” A serious proposal — and this is a serious matter, long beyond November — would include proposed language so voters know exactly what is at stake.
Would Ronchetti’s amendment seek to preserve some abortion rights? Would he ask the Legislature to present an amendment to outlaw all or most abortions? Those are different proposals, they deserve the voters’ examination before the election, not after.
The Ronchetti campaign communications director said that as governor, he would work with the Legislature to craft an amendment “that would fairly provide voters with a choice of how they want to address this issue. Mark has never proposed a ban and isn’t doing so now.”
In overturning Roe v. Wade — the decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion — the U.S. Supreme Court sent the issue back to the states to decide. What candidates for governor and the Legislature believe, then, must be clear.
Nationally, Republican candidates across the country — vehemently anti-abortion in primaries — have faced the reality that what pleases the GOP base is not flying with the broader electorate.
Those candidates now are walking back anti-abortion positions. That includes Ronchetti, whose stance on the issue was part of a recent Washington Post roundup highlighting GOP candidates’ changing positions on abortion. When he was a U.S. Senate candidate two years ago, Ronchetti called himself “strongly pro-life” and said, “Life should be protected — at all stages.” Today, he is “pro-life” and wants to seek a middle ground with the Legislature.
That middle ground evidently would let voters decide by way of amending the state constitution. It’s his most recent position, but the election is still weeks away.