Exciting Victories from YWU!

Exciting Victories from YWU!


  

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Leading Work by and for 
Community and Women of Color
 
At Young Women United, we strive to make sure that work designed to impact our communities is led by our communities. We work with our families and our communities to center their voices in decision making spaces.
We are proud to share important policy advances
and victories we have made this spring.

YWU at the Legislative Session 
 

HB 84: Licensure of Freestanding Birth Centers
Status: Signed by Governor Martinez 
Sponsored by Rep. Christine Trujillo and  Rep. Jason Harper
Duplicate Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Nancy Rodriguez 
Access to high quality maternal care is important for our families. We were proud to work with local midwives to pass HB84: Licensure of Freestanding Birth Centers in the state of New Mexico! The legislation passed both the House and Senate unanimously and will make birth centers more sustainable as they will be able to be reimbursed for their facility fees.
African American and Native American women and families have the highest rates of maternal and infant mortality in New Mexico and the United States. As New Mexico is a majority people of color state, this legislation has the potential increase maternity care and possibly impact outcomes for Native American, African-American, and other families of color. In our rural state it is often difficult for families to access care in their home communities. This law may enable providers in rural areas to open birth centers of their own.
SB 583: Criminal Offender Employment Eligibility 
“Ban the Box” 
Status: Tabled
Sponsored by Senator Bill O’Neill and Representative Alonzo Baldonado
 

One out of 44 New Mexican adults are involved in the criminal justice system. As people transition out of incarceration, one of the major barriers they face is gaining employment. In the application process, “Ban the Box” would eliminate an automatic disqualification for those with felony convictions, giving formerly incarcerated sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, tias and tios a chance to get their foot in the door with employers. We heard from businesses across New Mexico that they are ready to give potential employees a second chance and we are excited to continue working towards a brighter future for New Mexico families.

This was the first attempt to extend this legislation to private employers in New Mexico. With the powerful testimony, numerous one-on-one conversations with legislators, collaborating with legislators, and so much more, our Legislative Interns, fathers and families from PB & Js Father Building Futures program, and women from Crossroads for Women and Mayas Places, completely changed the conversation. The true victory came from the incredible impact we made with legislators in such a profound and genuine way. Legislators rarely hear from those who have been in the criminal justice system and our testimonies made all the difference!

Though the bill did not pass this session, these advocates were able to build relationships with Legislators across the aisle who are ready to make sure women, mothers, fathers, and families coming out of incarceration have a chance to build stable employment.

Crossroads for Women’s Day  at the NM Legislative Session 
 

Our partners at Crossroads for Women were honored in a memorial by

Senator Lisa Torraco on February 19th. Crossroads empowers New Mexico women to achieve successful reentry, sustainable recovery, and secure futures as they break the cycle of homelessness and incarceration.

Since this summer we have partnered with Crossroads to make sure the voices and expertise of women and families who have been in the criminal justice system are centered in criminal justice reform. Women from Crossroads attended every meeting of the subcommittee for criminal justice reform and were instrumental in shaping the policy reform that came from that committee. We are honored to work with such a brilliant group of women, people, and families. 

Our Families, Our Decisions 

Young Women United was one of the primary organization working to defeat harmful legislation that would have taken personal and complex decisions about abortion out of the hands of New Mexican families.
 
YWU leaders, volunteers, and staff attended committee hearings, testified in committee, trained volunteers, coordinated and did media interviews, and so much more. We continue to change the script on how reproductive health talked about in our communities. We know that regardless of our personal views on abortion, New Mexicans don’t want to make those decisions for other families. We were proud to bring the voices of women of color, queer folks, young people, allied medical providers, people of faith, people

YWU leaders and allied organizations after a committee hearing.
from rural New Mexico, Spanish speakers, mothers, and more to the Roundhouse to share their expertise with legislators.
Together we are growing a movement to protect access to reproductive health that comes from the traditions of our tias, grandmothers, aunties. That feels like New Mexico, that feels like home. We are so appreciative of all the YWU leaders and allies that came to Santa Fe to filled committee rooms, shared their testimony and perspectives, called legislators, and so much more. This victory wouldn’t have been possible without you.
We are thankful for the legislators who, regardless of their personal beliefs about abortion, can agree that New Mexican families can make those decisions for themselves.

HB 391 Forced Parental Notification  
Status: Tabled
House Bill 391  would have threatened the health and safety of young people by forcing them to notify parents/guardians before accessing abortion care. Over 80% of young people already turn to a parent or trusted adult when making the decision to have an abortion. As parents we do everything we can to protect our children. Forced parental notification is unsafe. If our daughters can’t turn to us, for whatever reason, we want them to be able to turn to other trusted adults. No legislation can build good communication within our families, our families build trust together.
 

HB 390 A ban on abortion later in pregnancy

Status: Tabled

New Mexico women making decisions about abortion later in pregnancy are facing heartbreaking circumstances. These decisions are most often made during wanted pregnancies and can include serious issues with the pregnancy and mother’s health. Our families need access to safe and legal healthcare throughout the course of our pregnancies.

SB 437: Physician Admitting Privileges for Abortion  

Status: Tabled

SB 437 would have required a physician performing or inducing an abortion to have physician admitting privileges at a hospital that is located not farther than 30 miles from the location at which the abortion is to be performed. Abortion providers, just like all medical providers, are concerned for the utmost safety of their patients. Providers already have tested safety provisions in place and undergo consistent continuing education and trainings.

Other Important Bills This Session: 
SB 42: Medicaid for Certain Incarcerated Persons
Status: Signed by Governor Martinez 
Sponsored by Senator Ortiz y Pino and Representative Alonzo Baldonado 
Access to safe and affordable healthcare is necessary for all New Mexicans, including for those coming out of incarceration. Many have to wait weeks or longer to enroll back into Medicaid and regain access to life saving medications and the care they need. This bill would pause Medicaid for incarcerated individuals so they can gain immediate access to health care as they reintegrate back into society. It would also support those who are eligible for Medicaid but not currently enrolled to get registered for it upon release.
In previous years YWU worked diligently to ensure the perspectives of women living in the criminal justice system, those trying to break cycles of addiction and incarceration, and those struggling with mental illness without treatment were included in moving this critical bill forward.

 

SB 358: Halfway House and Transitional Facility Act
Status: Pocket vetoed
Sponsored by Senator Lisa Torraco and Senator Linda Lopez 
Housing is one of the most important factors ensuring women and families who have lived through cycles of addiction and incarceration are able to stay on the paths they are building. This bill would support halfway houses and transitional living facilities across New Mexico, so that women, mothers, men, fathers and people have somewhere to go after being released from incarceration.
Though this bill was not signed into law, we have built important relationships with the New Mexico Department of Corrections. The Corrections Department has expressed their desire to create greater access to housing programs and we look forward to building with them to make sure that the specific needs of women are considered and centered.

SB 363: Expectant and Postpartum Prisoners Act

Status: Passed through all committees but not heard on the House floor

Sponsored by Senator Lisa Torraco

YWU is committed to making sure that our NM legislators hear directly from women who have experienced addiction, incarceration and motherhood so that policies in our state can better support our families. This summer we wrote and presented recommendations on pregnancy and lactation to the Criminal Justice Reform subcommittee and this bill is the result. The bill would allow judges to take into consideration a woman’s pregnancy and lactation status during pre-trial and sentencing as well as have detention administrators develop their own policies around lactation and pumping.

Though this bill was not signed into law, we are moving these issues. We have been proud to collaborate with the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC), the Breastfeeding Task Force, Wings for Life, and more to establish a pilot project for women and people who birth at MDC to express milk for their newborns.
SJM 4: Services for Mentally Ill and Awaiting Trial 
Status: Signed into law by Governor Martinez 
Sponsored by Senator Sander Rue 
 
The jails and prisons are New Mexico’s largest mental providers. While mental of our families are struggling with mental health issues, very few resources exist in our communities. SJM4 would create a task force to examine appropriate housing options for individuals with serious mental illness who are in the custody of county detention facilities. Studies have proved a correlation between mental health issues and lengthier stays in detention facilities. This is a huge step in making sure that people struggling with mental illness can get access to appropriate care sooner.
HB 332: Reduce Probation Time for Good Behavior

Status: Vetoed

Sponsored by Representative Antonio “Moe” Maestas

This bill would have taken 30 days off a probation sentence for every 30 days of good behavior. It could reduce recidivism and save the state a significant amount of money. We heard from women in the criminal justice system how this  would make a difference in their lives by allowing them to return to jobs, programs, and other important steps when they have proven they are on the right track.

HB 503 Maternal Mortality Prevention Act

Status: Tabled

Sponsored by Representative D. Wonda Johnson

Women and people of color are disproportionately affected by both infant and maternal mortality rates in the United States and in New Mexico, with African Americans and Native Americans experiencing the highest rates. This bill would have established a committee to research the causes of maternal mortality in New Mexico and propose solutions to reducing these disparities. While the bill was tabled this session, we look forward to continuing to advocating for these efforts.

We did it! Investing in Mental Health Solutions 

We were proud to work alongside women and families who have lived with mental health issues to pass a 1/8 cent gross tax increase to bring much needed mental health funding to Bernalillo County. Last Fall YWU and Crossroads for Women/Mayas Place held phone banks to ask voters to vote FOR supporting Mental Health Solutions and as a result, 70% voted in favor. This February we worked with women and families who have experiences life changing benefits as a result of being able to access mental health care to share their expertise with county commissioners. With these leaders and other other community members we asked our county commissioners to vote with the will of the people and pass the tax increase. We are excited to now build with the County Commission to make sure those resources support gender-specific, trauma informed resources for women. Thank you County Commissioners Maggie Hart Stebbins, Art De La Cruz and Debbie O’Malley for voting to this very important initiative! We are reassured in knowing that our families will now have better access to mental health resources and services in Bernalillo County.

Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Selection 
From organizing families to get out to vote in the Albuquerque School Board elections to Young Women United youth organizers sharing their voices at school board meetings, we are working to build school systems that are more equitable for young people of color, young women of color, and young LGBTQ people.As members of Families United for Education, we have been actively working to share the needs and concerns of our communities in the Superintendent selection process. The School Board recently selected Dr. Luis Valentino as the next Superintendent at APS. Our staff, community members, and FUE leaders appreciated Dr. Valentinos statements on how he would build equity for students of color, LGBTQ students, and engage families and communities. We are excited to build with him moving forward!

THANK YOU!
Thank you for supporting the efforts of Young Women United! We can’t do it without you. We will continue working hard to build communities where all people have the information, education, and resources we need to make real decisions about our bodies and lives.

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Young Women United | 309 Gold SW Albuquerque | NM | 87102