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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — In a closely watched, first-of-its kind municipal election, voters in New Mexico's largest city have soundly defeated a ban on late-term abortions.
Voters on Tuesday rejected the measure 55 percent to 45 percent following an emotional and graphic campaign that brought in national groups and hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising. The campaign included protests that compared abortion to the Holocaust and displayed pictures of aborted fetuses.
A coalition of groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and Planned Parenthood, called the results a huge victory for Albuquerque women and families.
"Albuquerque families sent a powerful message today_they do not want the government interfering in their private medical decisions," Micaela Cadena with the Respect ABQ Women campaign said in a statement. "Dangerous, unconstitutional laws like the one we rejected today have no place in Albuquerque, no place in New Mexico, no place anywhere in our nation."
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said, "We hope today's resounding defeat of this abortion ban sends a clear message to the extreme forces around the country now trying to impose their agenda on cities around this country. "
Activists on both sides of the issue said it was the first municipal ballot measure on the matter, which usually is debated at the state and federal level. Abortion opponents had hoped that a victory in Albuquerque would create momentum in their long-running fight to ban abortion.
Father Frank Pavone, national director of the New York-based Priests for Life, said Tuesday night that anti-abortion activists should not be discouraged.
"It is a brilliant strategy and we will see to it that this effort is introduced in other cities and states," he said in a statement. "The fact is, of course, that children have in fact been saved through this effort, simply because we have raised the issue of fetal pain, which does not even cross the minds of many abortionists."
Much of the campaign focused on the debate over when and whether fetuses can feel pain.
Albuquerque became the focus of the latest anti-abortion campaign because it is home to Southwestern Women's Options, one of just a handful of clinics in the country that perform late-term abortions. The proposal would have banned abortions after 20 weeks except to save the mother's life.
A leader of the initiative, Tara Shaver, said her group gathered signatures to put the issue to voters after failing to make headway in the Democrat-controlled Legislature.
Asked if other cities with late-term abortion clinics might be targeted in the future, Shaver said, "We are encouraging people to see what can be done at the city level. ... We are starting to get calls from people asking us how to do what we have done."
Police were stationed near polling places Tuesday as protesters from both sides tried to persuade voters who were lining up before the polls closed. One school reported an hour wait.
Michelle Halfacre said she cast her ballot in favor of the proposal, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks except to save the mother's life.
"I had an abortion when I was young, and I regret it," Halfacre said. "I don't believe in it."
But Jonathan Cottrell, a crisis hotline volunteer, said he voted against the proposal because he believes it marks the beginning of a "slippery slope to ban abortion in general."
"I feel that women have the right to choose what to do to their body," Cottrell said.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A pair of New Mexico state police officers are under investigation and a mother and her 14-year-old son are facing charges after a routine traffic stop turned to chaos with the teen physically confronting one officer and another firing shots at a minivan carrying children.
Details of the recent stop emerged when KRQE-TV obtained dashboard camera video of the police cruiser that pulled the family of six over for speeding near the northern New Mexico tourist town of Taos.
The Oct. 28 footage showed driver Oriana Farrell disobey the officer's orders and drive off during the stop.
The 39-year-old Tennessee mother was pulled over again and the video shows two of her five children get out of the vehicle to confront the officer.
The mother and teenage son were arrested after a brief chase. She has since been released. It's unclear whether her son remains in custody.
Farrell's attorney didn't immediately return a call.
HILLSBORO, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say the search for nine teenagers reported missing from a New Mexico ranch for troubled youth will continue Saturday despite statements from the facility's attorney saying the boys were being returned to their parents.
State police said in a statement Saturday that they have information that one or more children have been returned to their parents but until they "can physically confirm their well-being" the search will continue and the Amber Alert issued for the teens stands.
A search warrant was executed Friday at the Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Program after allegations of beatings surfaced. The teens weren't at the 30,000-acre compound in Sierra County and neither was program operator Scott Chandler, a person of interest in the case.
Chandler denied the teenagers were harmed.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say flooding has claimed a life in New Mexico.
State police say the body of a man was found yesterday in a partially submerged vehicle in Ash Canyon, about 150 miles from Albuquerque.
The death is the first related to massive flooding in New Mexico following record rains last week.
Gov. Susana Martinez issued a state of emergency on Friday to open up recovery funding for local communities hit hard by the flooding.