Advertisement

New Mexico Republican Leaves Anti-Abortion Past Off Campaign Website

A Republican running for Congress in New Mexico who once boasted of her anti-abortion credentials has cut all references to abortion from her website and campaign materials. 

Yvette Herrell previously represented New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District for a single term before being defeated by Democrat Gabe Vasquez in 2022 after the state’s Democrats drew districts that are more favorable to their party. 

That year, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the legal precedent that made abortion a constitutional right nationwide. Herrell’s loss was one of several disappointments for Republicans, who wound up winning the House by a slimmer margin than expected, and they could lose it this year thanks again to voters repulsed by state abortion bans.

Before elections in 2020 and 2022, Herrell’s campaign website prominently featured her anti-abortion stance on a “shared values” page. 

“With a consistent Pro-Life record in the New Mexico House of Representatives, Yvette will be a tireless advocate for the unborn in Congress,” the website said, according to cached versions accessed via the Internet Archive. “100% Pro-Life, Yvette believes life starts at conception and will never waiver in her beliefs.”

Now Herrell’s website doesn’t mention abortion at all. The “shared values” page talks about parental rights in the classroom and stopping “government overreach into our lives.”

It’s a small example of how the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that created a national right to abortion, has made being anti-abortion a problem for Republicans. In the 2022 midterm elections, protecting abortion rights played a key role in Democratic wins up and down the ballot in Michigan and Pennsylvania, as well as the reelection of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D). Concerns about abortion rights were likewise central in a host of Democratic victories in 2023, including the Kentucky gubernatorial race and key judicial races in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Now, as Republicans seek to retake the Senate and maintain their narrow hold on the House, many GOP candidates in tough races are trying to downplay their past support for abortion restrictions. 

Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.) holds a news conference on Jan. 20, 2022, with Republican members of Congress on President Joe Biden's first year in office.
Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.) holds a news conference on Jan. 20, 2022, with Republican members of Congress on President Joe Biden's first year in office. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

In previous election cycles, Herrell, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2018 before unseating then-Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D) in 2020, routinely touted her anti-abortion views on social media.

When New Mexico’s 2nd District had a more conservative electorate, Herrell evidently thought her anti-abortion views were a selling point. “The unborn continue to be a target of the radical left,” she posted on Twitter in May 2020. “My opponent, Xochitl Torres Small recently used her position to help raise funds for the abortion lobby. These are not New Mexico values!”

Herrell also applauded the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in June 2022 that led to the overturning of the national right to an abortion. “Today, Life wins,” she tweeted. “In 1973, the Supreme Court disregarded the Constitution, ignored science, & defied the will of the American people by imposing abortion on demand across the country. Our nation has lost over 63 million of her most vulnerable citizens to this tragic practice.”

Herrell had the support of the Susan B. Anthony List PAC, an influential anti-abortion group, for three straight election cycles, in 2018, 2020, and 2022. During her single term in Congress, Herrell co-sponsored nearly 30 pieces of legislation aimed at restricting abortion. 

The Susan B. Anthony List supports a national abortion ban, and the group chastised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for wavering on the issue while running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

“A pro-life president has a duty to protect the lives of all Americans,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement in July. “He should be the National Defender of Life.”

An Alabama Supreme Court ruling on Feb. 16 that effectively blocked in vitro fertilization in the state, a result that was reversed by state-level legislation, has Democrats champing at the bit and Republicans eager to proclaim their support for IVF.

In late February, Senate Democrats introduced a bill protecting IVF at the federal level, but Republican senators blocked it.

Herrell herself co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act in 2021, a bill declaring “that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual comes into being.” (The bill did make clear that it did not want women who end their pregnancies to be subject to criminal prosecution.)

That legislation raises obvious questions about where Herrell stands on IVF, a process that sometimes involves creating embryos that go unused ― presumably contrary to the Life at Conception Act.

Last month, Vasquez said on social media that Herrell “is in lockstep with Alabama’s Supreme Court.” A spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee pushed back, saying Herrell opposes federal restrictions on IVF. 

HuffPost reached out to Herrell’s campaign about her position on national abortion restrictions and IVF, as well as her reasons for cutting her anti-abortion position from her 2024 campaign website.

“Yvette is and always will be pro-life. Given the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, she believes this is no longer a federal issue and should be left to the states,” Paul Smith, a campaign spokesperson, said in a statement. “She also fully supports maintaining access to pro-family fertility treatments like IVF.”

Herrell’s campaign did not explicitly say whether she supports Democrats’ bill to protect IVF in federal law.Vasquez barely defeated Herrell in 2022, winning by only about 1,200 votes in a district that President Joe Biden carried by 6 percentage points in 2020. His campaign website makes his pro-choice politics clear on the front page: “Gabe is a fighter for women’s access to reproductive health care, immigration reform, and organized labor.”