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New Mexico Woman’s Right to Know Act (HB 122)

This law was last updated on Feb 24, 2014


SUMMARY

HB 122 would have enacted the Woman’s Right to Know Act. The bill would have (1) specified requirements for informed consent including information that a physician must provide to a woman before consent will be considered “informed”; (2) mandated an ultrasound; (3) required a patient to certify that she has been given the required information; (4) mandated the development and maintenance of a New Mexico Department of Health website to provide required information to a pregnant woman; (5) mandated certain physician reporting requirements; and (6) required the state health department to annually report statistics on informed consent for abortion.

Informed Consent

The bill would have prohibited abortion except with the voluntary and informed consent of the woman. Except in cases of medical emergency, consent would have been voluntary and informed if the physician informs the woman of (1) the name of the doctor who will perform the abortion; (2) the medical risks associated with the procedure, including when medically accurate, the risks of infection, hemorrhage, breast cancer, danger to subsequent pregnancies, and infertility; (3) the probable gestational age of the fetus; (4) and the medical risks of carrying a pregnancy to term.

The bill would also have required the physician performing the abortion (or the physician’s agent) to inform the woman at least 24 hours prior to the abortion that: (1) specified types of medical assistance benefits may be available to her; (2) the father is liable for child support; (3) she has the right to view printed state materials, which are also accessible on the Internet, describing the fetus and listing agencies that offer abortion alternatives.

An increase in risk of breast cancer is not supported by medical research. In fact, a new study confirms that there is no causative link between abortion and breast cancer. Given that this bill states that such information should be provided “when medically accurate,” ostensibly, an abortion provider would not have been required to inform a woman that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. Nevertheless, the bill language is vague at best.

Counseling/Waiting Period

The bill states that the required information must be given to the woman by telephone or in person at least 24 hours before the abortion.

The bill would also have required that the woman certify in writing that the information has been provided and that she has been provided an opportunity to review the printed state materials.

Ultrasound Requirement

The bill would have required the physician performing the abortion or a certified technician to: (1) perform an ultrasound using whichever method the physician and patient agree is best under the circumstances; (2) provide a verbal explanation of the ultrasound images; (3) display the ultrasound images to the pregnant woman; (4) provide a medical description of the ultrasound images; (5) provide an opportunity for the pregnant woman to hear the fetal heartbeat as well as an oral explanation of it.

The bill states that the ultrasound would have to be completed prior to a woman giving informed consent and prior to administering any anesthesia or other medication in preparation for the abortion.

The bill would have allowed a woman to avert her eyes to avoid viewing the ultrasound images, and to refuse to listen to the fetal heartbeat.

This bill would not have required a transvaginal ultrasound considering the language that the ultrasound should be performed using whichever method the physician and patient agree is best.

Medical Emergencies

In cases of medical emergency, the physician would have been required to inform the patient if possible of the medical indications supporting the physician’s judgment that an abortion is necessary to avert her death, and that a 24-hour delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions.

Physician Reporting Requirements

The bill would have required physicians to report information regarding, among other things, the number of women who were provided state-sanctioned information pursuant to the Woman’s Right to Know Act, how that information was provided (in person or by telephone), who provided it, and how many abortion resulted from medical emergencies.

Reporting Requirements

By June 30 of each year, the state health department would have been required to issue a public report providing statistics compiled from all the reports provided by physicians.

Criminal Penalties

The bill states that a violation of the informed consent and ultrasound provisions would be a felony, and a violation of the reporting requirements would be a misdemeanor.

STATUS

Died in committee; action postponed indefinitely.


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