To a packed County Commission Chamber the Otero County Commission tackled the issue of abortion with a non-binding resolution with much public dialog and a packed commission meeting. Couy Griffin sponsored the resolution and dialog after a constituent brought it to him for discussion. The County Attorney on multiple occasions reinstated that the resolution has “no enforcement mechanism” and that it is just a “statement of opinion.”
Couy Griffin specifically said that “abortions should not happen in any place except a hospital but not in clinics.” Debate shifted often with public comment. Couy welcomed other counties to declare themselves a “Sanctuary County for Life.”
The commission unanimously passed the resolution declaring the community a Sanctuary County for Life. Throughout the debate Commissioner Mattingley commented that he ensured that there were medical provisions made into the resolution to balance the resolution out of respect for health professionals and if a woman’s life was at risk.
The commission meeting can be viewed at:
Abortion clinics are primarily located in the northern counties of the state. A large abortion provider from out of state, has announced their planned relocation to Las Cruces. There has been dialog of an additional relocation of another abortion provider from out of state to Southern, New Mexico to serve those from Texas and surrounding states with more conservative state abortion laws.
This is an evolving story within the state of New Mexico and how local governments will respond to the recent supreme court ruling pushing the decisions back to the state governments.
This idea of a Sanctuary County was not an original though of Commissioner Griffin nor the Otero County Commission the movement dates back to 2019…
On August 19, 2019, the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners in Yadkinville, North Carolina, passed a resolution to become the nation’s first sanctuary county to protect pre-born children from abortion. The resolution was the first step in a larger, three-pronged strategy put forth by the Personhood Alliance that is calling the pro-life movement back its roots and replicating the approach of early Christians in shifting the culture.
“The passage of this pro-life resolution is a historic event,” says Pastor Keith Pavlansky, president of Personhood North Carolina, who leads the Sanctuary for Life effort in the state. He and several other pastors and community leaders came together to build the momentum that led to the passage of Yadkin County’s resolution. “We have returned to constitutional law,” says Pavlansky. “We have rejected the ideologies of politicians and judges who permit the killing of pre-born and newly born children, and we look forward to drawing together as a community and helping expectant mothers and fathers as we work to create and defend a culture of life.”
To learn more about the origin of this initiative and the groundwork in working with counties such as Otero County in laying groundwork for further dialog visit:
The county commission has NO authority over the legislation of abortion within the state of New Mexico laws. However, it opted to debate a resolution today that reads…
Resolution No. 07-14-22/111-09
A Resolution Declaring Otero County as a Sanctuary for Life
WHEREAS, the BOCC of Otero County stands in agreement with the Supreme
Court of the United States’ recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and appreciate the
Court’s decision to provide respect to state and local governments by allowing them to
decide if the lives of our unborn will be protected. The functioning of the American
Republic is truly respected and restored by the Court’s decision; and
WHEREAS, the Declaration of Independence affirms that all men are created
equal and have been endowed by the Creator with unalienable rights, chief among them
the right to life, and that the protection of these rights is an affirmative duty of federal,
state, and local governments; and
WHEREAS, the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States
Constitution provide for the protection of all human life and liberty; and
WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of the United States in Poelker v. Doe, 432 U.S.
519 (1977), concluded that the Constitution does not forbid a state or county or city,
pursuant to democratic processes, from expressing a preference for normal childbirth
instead of abortion; and
WHEREAS, state police power derives from the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gives states the power not delegated to the United States; and
WHEREAS, the power to establish and enforce laws protecting the welfare, safety, and health of the public is a core function of the state’s Tenth Amendment police power, which includes the local government; and
WHEREAS, the Board of County Commissioners of Otero County, New Mexico, consider life to begin at conception. This is proven by the multiplication of cells which is proven evidence that life is forming and a living human being is beginning to develop; and
WHEREAS, the Board of County Commissioners of Otero County, New Mexico, desires to express its deep concern that all human life, beginning from life inside the womb, through every stage of development, up and until a natural death, in Otero County should be afforded protection by their government, including local government, from acts of cruelty, and should be treated humanely and with dignity; and
WHEREAS, there are instances where medical intervention is necessary and difficult decisions are required. The Board of County Commissioners of Otero County, New Mexico, believe the following: 1) emergency medical interventions performed to protect the life of the mother and/or unborn are decisions only to be made and decided on by the doctor and mother without government intervention. Otero County takes a neutral position out of respect for those involved, and 2) instances of rape/incest are criminal matters and those decisions are to be decided on by doctor/victim without government intervention. In such cases a full criminal investigation shall be conducted by the Otero County Sheriffs Dept. Otero County takes a neutral position out of respect for those involved; and
WHEREAS, the Board of County Commissioners of Otero County, New Mexico, stands firmly against the presence in the County of Planned Parenthood clinics or any other clinics where abortion is practiced at will and on demand. Any procedures that need to be performed in regards to protecting the health of a mother will take place in a local hospital under the care of a physician; and
WHEREAS, the Board of County Commissioners of Otero County, New Mexico, stands firmly against any medications which cause a miscarriage. We do so, not only to protect the developing child but also to protect the mother of any adverse reactions that these drugs may cause; and
WHEREAS, the Board of County Commissioners of Otero County, New Mexico, condemns voluntary abortion practices used for any reason and believe that the intentional killing of an innocent human life is never acceptable.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF OTERO COUNTY, NEW MEXICO AS FOLLOWS:
1. That the Board of County Commissioners of Otero County, New Mexico, hereby recognizes and declares the full humanity of the preborn child through all states of life up and until a natural death and declares Otero County, New Mexico, to be a sanctuary for life where the dignity of every human being will be defended and promoted from life inside the womb through all stages of development in life up and until a natural death.
2. That the Board of County Commissioners of Otero County, New Mexico, hereby resolves to enforce this resolution by all means within its power and authority, in accordance with its responsibility as the people’s elected local representatives
3. That the Board of County Commissioners of Otero County, New Mexico, hereby stand on this resolution to not only protect life, but also to honor God, who gives life. We believe that life is God ordained and God is the author and finisher of every life. No matter if at the beginning or at the end. We stand in full agreement that, as a body of commissioners, we will protect and sustain life at every stage. As we ask God to bless America, we first have to honor and respect God.
By protecting life and passing this resolution we feel that we do both. PASSED, APPROVED AND ADOPTED this 14th day of July, 2022.
THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF OTERO COUNTY, NEW MEXICO
Vickie Marquardt, Chairman
Chairman Gerald R. Matherly, Vice-chairman
Couy D. Griffin, Commissioner
The resolution has no authority tied to it except as a statement of opinion, but many legal scholars debate if these resolutions of opinion are the foundation for groundwork to further erode abortion protections at the local levels of government. Time and certainly more lawsuits in the future will define that opinion. New Mexico state law protects a woman’s right to an abortion.