New Mexico Bill Would Criminalize Abortions After Rape As 'Tampering With Evidence'

Saturday, January 26, 2013
Fetuses as evidence?

A New Mexico legislator is attempting to legally redefine a fetus as a piece of evidence.

On Wednesday, Republican (surprise!) state Representative Cathrynn Brown (actually, a surprise) introduced House Bill 206 that would “legally require victims of rape to carry their pregnancies to term in order to use the fetus as evidence for a sexual assault trial,” according to the Huffington Post.

The bill essentially says that any women who wish to abort pregnancies resulting from rape could be prosecuted for tampering with evidence. Prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to possibly three years in prison.

Interestingly, Brown released a press statement saying that the intent of the bill was misinterpreted because of the specific language used. Citing drafting errors and language problems, Brown promised to review the bill for more clarity.

In her statement, Brown said that "House Bill 206 was never intended to punish or criminalize rape victims,” Brown said. “Its intent is solely to deter rape and cases of incest. The rapist — not the victim — would be charged with tampering of evidence."

It appears Representative Brown is desperately trying to unring the Bell of Absurdity. Intention and actuality are two very different things.

In New Mexico, it is estimated that a shocking 1 in 4 women and 1 in 20 men are likely to be raped in their lifetime according to the New Mexico Department of Health. Notice the subtle distinction between "forcible rape" and, say, date rape with the aid of a drug and/or alcohol. That's for a different day though.

Just imagine the potential effects from this utterly absurd and downright offensive bill. For example, a rape victim could possibly go to jail longer than her rapist. It is estimated that 3 out of 100 rapists actually spend time in jail. Don't forget that, in the past five years or so, only 46% of rapes actually get reported.

No word on the potential statistics of how many rape victims could spend time in jail. We will keep you posted.

Though the bill is unlikely to pass, the written existence of it is extremely dangerous to every woman in the United States. It may not pass in New Mexico, but it could be copied and brought to a state like, well, Texas (knock on wood).

Rick Perry is probably kicking himself for not thinking of it first.

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