This past week marked yet another ludicrous attempt to deny women control of their own bodies. New Mexico state representative Cathrynn Brown (R) introduced House Bill 206, which would mandate victims of rape to carry a resulting pregnancy to term because the fetus would be considered evidence in the rape case. If the bill were to pass, women who sought an abortion to terminate a rape-induced pregnancy would have been charged with a third-degree felony–carrying a sentence of up to three years in prison–for “tampering with evidence”.
You can’t make these things up.
The bill officially read:
Tampering 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.
Brown’s rationalization for the bill twisted the mind: “New Mexico needs to strengthen its laws to deter sex offenders. By adding this law in New Mexico, we can help to protect women across our state.” Huh? How exactly does it protect women from rapists?
Pat Davis of ProgressNow New Mexico described the proposal as one to turn victims of rape and incest into felons and force them to become “incubators of evidence for the state.” As if the rape itself weren’t invasive enough.
Negative publicity about the bill was so overwhelming that Brown, formerly on the board of Right to Life Carlsbad, decided to revise her proposal: Now she’s directed it toward the rapist, who would be charged with a evidence-tampering if he “commits criminal sexual penetration or incest” and then “procures an abortion of a fetus resulting from the crime.”
You heard correctly: She wants to charge rapists with that oh-so-common crime of forcing their victims to have abortions in order to destroy evidence of the crime. (Can we see the stats on that occurring, Rep. Brown? Uh, doesn’t it make more sense that if a rapist returned to make sure his victim aborted, she would take that opportunity to report him to police?)
If you want to protect women, Rep. Brown, why not propose harsher penalties for rapists? Or make sure that there are no rape-kit backlogs? Suggest funding for more investigations and prosecutions? Or set up statewide anti-rape campaigns to educate men not to rape?
New Mexico has a Democratic majority in its legislature, so the bill, even amended, is not expected to pass.
Photo of Cathrynn Brown from Ballotpedia