Rape-Abortion Bill Causes Uproar In N.M.

By: CBS/AP (Posted by Kion Hudson)
By: CBS/AP (Posted by Kion Hudson)

(CBS/AP)-- A Republican legislator came under fire for her proposed law that, critics said, could lead to felony charges against rape or incest victims seeking an abortion.

On Wednesday Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, introduced House Bill 206, which she said was intended to make it a crime for a rapist to force his pregnant victim to have an abortion.

Within hours the bill drew national attention for a section that 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."

That would appear to open up rape or incest victims to felony charges, punishable by up to three years in prison, if they obtain an abortion, reports CBS Affiliate KRQE.

The chairman of New Mexico's Democratic Party called it an "atrocious piece of legislation."

"I was shocked in reading it," Rep. Gail Chasey , D-Albuquerque," told KRQE correspondent Alex Goldsmith. "As an attorney I started looking at it and thought that's not how we gather evidence in a rape anyway, so it doesn't even make sense logically."

"I can't judge her intent, but to me it feels like an extension of the war on women," said Rep. Elizabeth Thomson , D-Albuquerque.

After telling KRQE that critics were simply misreading her bill, Brown later told the station that the language was a mistake made by the bill's drafter, an error she says she missed when reviewing the bill before introducing it.

"When he fixed some of the tampering language in the bill, somehow it just kind of missed the emphasis that I had hoped I'd made clear in the beginning," Brown told KRQE.

Brown will introduce a new bill that makes it clear that rape or incest victims could not be charged with tampering with evidence for getting an abortion.

Another abortion-related proposal has been raised in Santa Fe this session. Rep. Nora Espinoza , R-Roswell, has introduced the "Woman's Right to Know Act" that would require doctors performing an abortion to first show the woman an ultrasound and have her hear a fetus' heartbeat.


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