Citizens in Albuquerque, N.M., rejected the first ever referendum to ban abortion at a city level Tuesday. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Ordinance, modeled after the U.S. House of Representative’s Fetal Pain Bill, would have banned abortions after 20 weeks.
About 87,000 people voted in the special election, with the proposed ordinance losing 55 percent to 45 percent. More people participated in the special election than Albuquerque’s mayoral election last month, which drew 70,000 voters.
The husband and wife team of Bud and Tara Shaver, along with others from Albuquerque’s Project Defending Life, started a petition drive this summer that garnered nearly 27,000 signatures in support of putting the measure to a vote, far above the 12,091 names needed.
“We did lose the election,” Tara Shaver said, “but believe abortion will come to an end in this city when the hearts and minds of the people change.”
Pro-life advocates turned to taking action on the city level after years of attempts to pass a pro-life bill at the state level. Because of a state legislature controlled by Democrats, making headway was nearly impossible in a state that has become known as the late-term abortion capital of the world. If the ordinance had passed, it would have applied to three of New Mexico’s five abortion centers, which are located in Albuquerque.
The campaign for Tuesday’s special election was anything but mellow with hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on television and radio ads. Project Defending Life ran ads mainly on Christian and Hispanic radio stations to encourage people to vote.
Shaver said one of the main reasons the ordinance failed was the difference in the campaign treasuries of the two sides. Pro-abortion organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and Planned Parenthood, spent approximately $800,000 for their efforts to defeat the ordinance, whereas Project Defending Life, the Susan B. Anthony List, and others supporting the initiative has only $350,000 at their disposal, according to Shaver.
The Shavers came to Albuquerque three years ago hoping to expose the truth about abortion in a state where there are no regulations. “We accomplished our goal of raising awareness,” Tara Shaver said.
But she added that her biggest disappointment was the reaction of the church.
“I was hoping the body of Christ would show the nation that we are a voice to be reckoned with,” Shaver said, “There are 450 churches in Albuquerque, many of which didn’t even mention the ordinance that could have made a huge impact on Albuquerque and the world.”
Listen to a report on yesterday’s vote in Albuquerque on The World and Everything in It: