New Mexico House Bill 206, proposed by state Representative Cathrynn Brown (R-Carlsbad), would classify terminating a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest as tampering with evidence. The text of the proposed bill[PDF] reads “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.” This could mean that rape or incest victims who seek to terminate a pregnancy resulting from rape could face felony charges and up to three years in prison.
Representative Brown insists that the bill was designed to protect women from being forced to have an abortion by their attacker. She told the Albuquerque Journal “I thought I had a pretty good little bill that was going to accomplish a lot of good, and it’s being misconstrued.” She claims in the Carlsbad Current-Argus, the local newspaper for her district, that the bill was poorly drafted by a member of her staff and when reviewing it she didn’t catch the possible interpretation that she is facing criticism for now. “I missed this one,” she said.
Javier Gonzalez, the Chairman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, told the Albuquerque Journal “This bill is wrong and should never see the light of day in any legislature in this country, let alone New Mexico. … The war on women in America has to stop. No woman should ever be forced to carry a child for ‘evidence,’ plain and simple.”
Representative Brown plans on introducing new legislation that will clarify that the attacker would be punished under the law, not the victim, however she has yet to respond further to the media.
Media Resources: Albuquerque News 1/25/2013; Business Insider 1/25/2013; Carlsbad Current-Argus 1/24/2013; USA Today 1/24/2013; New Mexico House Bill 206
New Mexico State Capitol from Flickr