Tattoos no, abortions OK for teens?

By Ned Cantwell

Time to follow up on a few topics previously addressed, and for your humble correspondent to eat a slice of humble pie, although, trust me, he will not stuff himself.
How shallow was I to poke fun at our state Legislature for turning its attention to naming an Official State Butterfly, a matter comparatively insignificant considering the other heavy issues gridlocking the corridors of the legislative halls.
But, by golly, our guys and gals up at the Roundhouse got it done. Gov. Bill Richardson signed into law a bill that names the Sandia hairstreak as our designated butterfly creature. Actually, you need not yet begin paying homage to the Sandia hairstreak, assuming you would recognize one if it roosted on your nose. The law does not take effect until June 20.
Here is what I did not know, and I am embarrassed by it. The new law not only gives official sanction to the hairstreak, it also legalizes the New Mexico whiptail lizard as our Official State Reptile, and the New Mexico spadefoot toad as our Official State Amphibian.
There is more to the new law, and this is serious. How many journalists, including this one, went blithely about their business the last few years smugly confident they were performing their duties as public watchdogs when, believe it or not, our Official State Slogan had lapsed?
As incredible as it might seem, the state nickname was accidentally deleted from the statute book a few years ago. Thankfully, our elected leaders caught up with this gaffe, and, come June 20, we will again be known as the Land of Enchantment. Whew!
This column also spent some time bemoaning the startling inconsistency of the New Mexico House of Representatives that unanimously passed a bill, had it survived the dodoes in the Senate, would have made it illegal for a teenager to get a tattoo or body piercing without first getting parental permission.
That same House, we pointed out, routinely stonewalls any attempt to make it illegal for a teen girl to get an abortion before her parents are first notified. Mind you, the legislative proposals do not require parental consent, they simply ask that parents be told before the procedure is performed.
We asked any legislators who might want to defend that inconsistency to let us express their views. So far, no takers. Therefore, we will remind our readers before the next legislative session so they can personally demand their state reps and senators know they will be watching the votes next time this one comes up.
All in all though, our state is in pretty good shape, or will be come June 20 when we get our slogan back.

Ned Cantwell of Ruidoso is a retired newspaper publisher and member of the New Mexico Press Association Hall of Fame. E-mail him at: