In a first of its kind vote, residents of Albuquerque, N.M. will cast their ballots Tuesday on a referendum that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.
It is the same ban that has been passed in more than a dozen states, but this is the first to cover a specific city and the first to be put up for a direct vote, reports The Washington Times
Two clinics in the state perform the procedure after 20 weeks, including Southwestern Women's Options, which is also one of only a few clinics in the country that offer abortions after the sixth month of pregnancy.
Two of the physicians from late-term abortion doctor George Tiller's clinic in Wichita, Kan. moved to Albuquerque to practice at Curtis Boyd's Southwestern Women's Options after Tiller was killed by a anti-abortion protester three years ago.
"Because Curtis Boyd is employing George Tiller's former abortionists, they're being able to reap the referral system that George Tiller had in place," Tara Shaver, a pro-life missionary who also moved from Wichita to Albuquerque, told the Times.
Shaver and her husband Bud now work for Project Defending Life and have made it their sole mission to shut down Southwestern Women's Options, reports Time magazine
"Whenever we tell people abortion is legal for all nine months, they argue that no one ever does it that late in a pregnancy," she told the publication, adding: "They do, and they are coming to Albuquerque to do it."
When their efforts to close down the clinic failed, she said, they moved to activate the local pro-life community, gathering enough signatures on a petition to force the City Council to either adopt a ban or let the public decide, which it did.
The fight for votes initially played out between local groups, with pro-life advocates reportedly appealing to Catholic and evangelic churches in the city, and pro-choice advocates organizing women's groups.
In the past few weeks, national interests have become involved. The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group that helped pass 20-week bans in several states, has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to an advertising campaign for the initiative, while President Barack Obama's lobbying arm, Organizing for Action, has also raised funds, according to The Washington Times.
"The groups behind the ballot initiative are extremely well-funded and — if they win in Albuquerque —you can bet they're going to take this approach to cities and states across the country," Kaili Lambe, Women's issues campaign manager for OFA, told the newspaper.
A survey taken by the Albuquerque Journal
in September found that 54 percent of voters were in favor the referendum.
A poll conducted last week by the blog New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan
, however, showed 53 percent oppose it.
"This is a new strategy — no one has ever tried this at a municipal level," Patrick Davis, director of ProgressNow New Mexico, told Time magazine. "The bottom line is we don't know how this is going to go."
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