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Juan Antonio Labreche, Associated Press
In this Tuesday Nov. 19, 2013 photo, Project Defending Life co-founders Bud and Tara Shaver listen as Susan B. Anthony List campaign manager Andy Blom delivers the Albuquerque abortion ban concession speech at the Crowne Plaza Albuquerque Hotel in Albuquerque, NM. Following a closely watched campaign voters rejected an ordinance placed on a municipal ballot that would have banned late-term abortions. The measure was rejected by 55 percent to 45.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Abortion rights groups say Albuquerque's decisive defeat of a ban on late-term abortions should send a strong message to policymakers around the country to stop meddling in personal medical decisions.

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But those who succeeded in putting the proposal to a historic vote vowed their fight is not over.

Activists on both sides say it was the first municipal election on the issue. And despite the defeat, it likely won't be the last.

The Rev. Frank Pavone, head of the national Catholic anti-abortion group Priests for Life, called it a brilliant strategy that he will push to replicate in other cities.

Albuquerque pollster Brian Sanderoff credited the win to smart campaigning and fundraising by opponents, as well as an emerging base of progressive voters in New Mexico's largest city.