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New Mexico: Haven of Reproductive Justice

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New Mexico is a quite blue state (very different than 2000 when it was the closest that Gore won). Being next to Texas and Oklahoma and Utah and Arizona has meant that it is now a blue oasis, even if Arizona is slowly moving to the left. Its excellent governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, has worked very hard in the year since Dobbs to make the state a beacon of reproductive justice. It has paid off, as doctors are now coming to the Land of Enchantment to be trained in how to perform abortions.

Dr. Amber Truehart, medical director of the UNM Center for Reproductive Health, said the center is “getting a variety of people looking for abortion training.”

Truehart said medical residents studying at medical schools in states where abortion is banned are now coming to the UNM Center for Reproductive Health for a one-month rotation to receive the training. Truehart said this is happening nationally in other states where abortion remains legal.

She said, in addition, students who are not just OB-GYN residents are applying to the UNM Center for Reproductive Health for abortion training. Those students include psychiatric residents and nurse midwives.

“They’re reaching out, trying to figure out medication abortion or surgical abortion; how they can help,” Truehart said.

Truehart said psychiatric providers already provide counseling and prescribe medications to help their patients. Medication abortion is a two-step regime regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA loosened some of its restrictions around prescribing the first of the two drugs, mifepristone, earlier this year. Currently, mifepristone can be prescribed and dispensed by a health care medical provider who meets certain qualifications and is certified by the FDA’s mifepristone regulations program.

Rebecca Griffin, a spokesperson for the Bixby Center, said that after just one year since the Dobbs decision, we’re “only beginning to see the impacts on abortion training and what that means for the workforce and abortion care.”

Researchers at the Person-Centered Reproductive Health Program at the University of California-San Francisco recently published a paper in The American Board of Family Medicine about the potential of integrating abortion care into family practice medicine.

The researchers found, when they interviewed a small cohort of family physicians in 2019, that many felt that abortion fits within the scope of their care. But the practice has become a specialized form of care almost exclusively managed at clinics, so family physicians don’t practice it.

The researchers also found that family physicians are, at times, frustrated that they can’t offer abortion care since they usually develop relationships with their patients. The researchers also noted that if family physicians did offer such care, it could help to alleviate the abortion desert issue that impacts rural parts of the U.S., including New Mexico.

Obviously, this is not as good as just having abortion freely available to anyone who wants it. But in this situation you do what you can do. At least New Mexico has stepped up.

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