Saturday, April 7, 2007

SB17 Vetoed by Gov. Richardson

April 6 was the deadline for action on legislation. Anything not signed or vetoed by the end of the day would be "pocket vetoed," in other words ignored.

So we knew that we were down to the wire, and it wasn't a good feeling. But we were still hopeful that he would sign it. Then last night I made one final check of the Secretary of State's website. There it was, under "Vetoed Bills and Messages." It has a message attached to it. An attempt to explain why it was vetoed. (You can follow the link on the right to see the actual message.)

My first reaction was, "Well, if he thinks I'm voting for him, he's got another thing coming."

The body of the message reads:

"Pursuant to the Constitution of the State of New Mexico Article IV, Section 22, I hereby VETO and return SENATE BILL 17, as amended, which was enacted during the Forty-Eighth Legislature, First Session, 2007.

Senate Bill 17 in its amended form refers to both “certificate of fetal death” and “certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth.” The term “stillbirth” is not used by statistical health agencies. Rather, “fetal death” is used. The bill creates a new category of “births” in New Mexico and authorizes the issuance of a formal state certificate for “birth resulting in stillbirth.”

The amended bill would require production of two documents for a single event—both a certificate of death and a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth. Having two documents for a single vital event can lead to confusion and potential fraud, and is not sound policy.

Accordingly, signature of this bill is not appropriate at this time."


They seem like logical arguments, those few at the end. Confusion. Potential fraud. Except that those were discussed as this bill went through its paces in the legislature. So there must be something else. Surely it isn't simply because we are making a new category of births.

We have been sacrificed on the altar of political appearances.

This might be the danger of bringing this bill before a governor who is running for president. He has a few too many people watching out for his image. We did everything we could, in the bill itself, to make sure that this could not be turned into a pro-life/pro-choice hot button. It would seem, however, that some people have done just that. It isn't that. It never was and never will be for those who know anything about it. But those who do not truly understand try it all the time.

We could not have had better support for this bill. We had sponsors that are pro-life. We had supporters in the House that are pro-choice. We were careful in the language of the legislation. We had nearly unanimous passage of the bill in both houses of the legislature. But he vetoed it anyway.

Could someone please remove the dagger from my back? I can't quite reach it, and it keeps knicking my heart everytime I breathe.

We have work to do.

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