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New Mexico Wants to Ban Abortion After Rape, Calling It “Tampering With Evidence”

New Mexico Wants to Ban Abortion After Rape, Calling It “Tampering With Evidence”

One New Mexico Republican has come up with a novel way to try and criminalize abortion in the case of rape or incest: declare the fetus evidence of the sexual assault.

House Bill 206, introduced by state Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R), would legally require victims of rape or incest to carry their pregnancies to term, purportedly so that the fetus could be used as evidence for a sex assault trial. Any rape or incest victim who ended her pregnancy would be charged with a third-degree felony for “tampering with evidence.”

According to the language of the bill, “[t]ampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.” In New Mexico, third-degree felonies are punishable by a prison sentence of up to three years.

This latest attack on women’s health and safety is particularly offensive since House Republicans refuse to renew the Violence Against Women Act. And consider the fact that incidents of rape and incest are already chronically under-reported and it is hard to see how threatening survivors with a felony should they abort does anything but further shame and demean survivors.

Supporters of the measure claim the law is designed to help dissuade rapists, which makes total sense since it punishes the victims. Of course.

Importantly, though, the bill is right in line with the Republican party platform and what has become the center of the conservative movement that now believes women in every circumstance must be forced by the state to carry every pregnancy to term. Let’s be very clear what criminalizing abortion in this context does — it compels women through the power of the state to stay pregnant and birth against their will.

The bill is in the early stages of the legislative process, though Brown hopes to see it passed and implemented by summer. Should it pass it would likely face an almost immediate legal challenge, which, like the 20 week abortion ban in Arizona, could be exactly the point. In the meantime, though, we can all add “forcing rape and incest victims to carry their assailants baby to term” to the growing list of ways Republicans are looking out for women.

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Photo from VilleHoo via flickr.

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441 comments

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2:43PM PST on Feb 27, 2013

Well said, Sheila S. and Diane L.... agree completely! Along with taking DNA samples in utero and/or after abortion, ultrasound pictures can also be printed and retained for legal files [and, in the case of abortion the entire embryo/fetus could be cryogenically frozen and retained].

There is absolutely no excuse for forcing a woman who has already been traumatized enough to endure a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest.

5:33AM PST on Feb 26, 2013

Cathrynn Brown needs to be voted out, she is a traitor to all woman everywhere.

This is total bullshit and cruel and unusual punishment for the victim....shame on this control freak bitch waging the war on women.

1:12PM PST on Feb 17, 2013

Prematurely hit send...I thought to add:

Originally, the language was to include a charge of Tampering available for perpetrators who coerce, intimidate, or force rape victims to abort - targeted specifically for perpetrators on underage victims.

1:10PM PST on Feb 17, 2013

Fortunately, this bill is dead in the water, now. There was a formal "apology" from the division who write the language of proposed legislation, accepting blame for not writing it the way Rep. Brown "meant" it. Total crock, if you ask me, but, regardless...the bill is dead, and Rep. Brown realizes what a HUGE mistake that was.

8:41PM PST on Feb 16, 2013

Sheila, well said and one little correction............genetic evidence (DNA) proving father of the child can be obtained during pregnancy without having an abortion. It's done all the time in paternity disputes WHILE Mom is still pregnant.

4:39PM PST on Feb 16, 2013

Clearly Republicans do not appear to understand genetics or forensics for that matter. There is no scientific reason that a woman, who has been raped or a victim of incest, needs to carry a fetus to term for the sake of collecting genetic evidence against their assailants. Genetic evidence can be collected at the time of the abortion.
Obviously this ridiculous law has nothing to do with justice. It is an attempt to prevent women access to abortion under any circumstances.

3:55PM PST on Feb 16, 2013

Unbelievable!! Even more proof that Republicans hate women.

1:28PM PST on Feb 16, 2013

RIDICULOUS. After reading through so many tragic stories today,i'm very appreciative of this comical piece!!!! Thanks,i was in desperate need of a good laugh....

9:54AM PST on Feb 16, 2013

You couldn't make this stuff up!! Crazy as bat shit!!

9:38PM PST on Feb 15, 2013

Tampering with evidence? I call what Cathrynn Brown is doing MEDDLING and BLAMING THE VICTIM.

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