New Mexico Legislator Introduces Bill To Make It A Crime of “Destroying Evidence” For A Rape Victim To Get An Abortion

HBROWNew Mexico Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R) has introduced House Bill 206, a bill that would make it a crime a rape victim to get an abortion as destruction of evidence of a crime. Brown is a lawyer and a member of the judiciary committee. She is also an ardent pro-life legislator who has made eliminating abortion (and “debunking” global warming) a mission. and, after a national outcry, says that the bill was poorly drafted will be changed to address the public concerns.

The bill below states “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.” As a third-degree felony, a rape victim could be subject to three years in jail. Fortunately, it also happens to be facially unconstitutional.

After her introduction of the bill making a fetus “evidence” of a rape, Brown found herself the subject of national outcry. She eventually issued a statements claiming that the bill was poorly drafted and that her intent was not to criminally charge rape victims. That is a bit hard to understand given the shortness and clarity of the bill. It is hard to miss that “procuring or facilitating an abortion” would include rape victims, particularly for a lawyer. It is also hard to see how anyone with a JD would not see this bill as blatantly unconstitutional but Brown got various colleagues to co-sponsor the bill.

Brown now blames “a drafting error” and says that she will amend the law “to make the intent of the legislation abundantly clear.” Yet, she says that criminalizing such abortions is “solely to deter rape and cases of incest. The rapist — not the victim — would be charged with tampering of evidence.” Many pro-life advocates have long objected to exceptions for rape and incest in allowing abortions.

It is not clear why this bill is needed since the individual is subject to the higher penalty of rape and such rape would still have to be proven to establish an effort to compel or coerce a rape victims into having an abortion. There are an array of other laws that can also be used in such a circumstances based on the threats or coercion against a victim. That makes the intent of the law even more suspect.

In the end, Brown appears content to say that she is merely a legal illiterate rather than a legal extremist. A curious defense for a lawyer and a judiciary committee member.

Here is the statute: HB0206

Source: ABC

48 thoughts on “New Mexico Legislator Introduces Bill To Make It A Crime of “Destroying Evidence” For A Rape Victim To Get An Abortion

  1. What a low-life piece of crap…. working against her own kind. Who thought this up, a priest, more than likely… right after he finished raping a child.

  2. Apparently she is not fit to be an attorney nor chair of the judiciary. But probably nothing will happen as she is currently serving…. But would you want an Orly wanna bee….

    If I recall yesterday, Elaine posted this on the correction site…

  3. According to Cathrynn Brown, if she were to go driving while intoxicated and crashed her car, the paramedics shouldnn’t remove her to a hospital and treat her until the police have done a sobriety test (i.e. she has to be awake and able to walk or touch her nose, etc.). Putting her in an ambulance and letting her be operated on by doctors (and sobering up during the hours of surgery) would be “destruction of evidence”. If she dies at the scene, it’s her problem.

    Or, doctors could do a blood test at the hospital while operating and confirm she was driving drunk, *and* she wouldn’t be denied (or delayed in getting) life-saving treatment…very much the same way that doctors can take swabs from rape victims or from aborted feotuses without subjecting the victim to further trauma.

    Back in the 1980s, in a Doonesbury cartoon a right wing speaker referred to a woman who had an abortion as a “murderess”. The rightwingnuts in the US got touchy about it, saying it was an “unfair portrayal” of the “anti-abortion” movement (read: anti-woman, anti-choice). What Trudeau wrote in jest has come to be open dialogue of the wingnuts.

  4. P Smith,

    Ouch…. And is that why the cartoon was moved to the editorial pages in a large number of newspapers…

  5. It think there could be difficulties with using a baby as court evidence in a rape trial.

    Chain of custody?
    You just can’t have evidence walking around the place. The woman would need to be kept under supervision at all times – presumably in a special evidence locker.
    Perhaps a full term of evidence custody might be OTT, particularly for the very early months. It would definitly be required towards the end, just in case of an early birth.
    Police would also need to be in attendance at a birth so that the evidence could be bagged and stored.

  6. I don’t know about this morning…..I woke up to find a bunch of news about the Repuglican gerrymandering in broad daylight and patting each other on the backs as if this level of politicking isn’t dirty…..hearing that filibuster reform had been busted…now hearing an actual woman (supposedly) crass enough to ignore the recipient of criminal assault and social murder in a bill designed to promote the effect of that crime …. there a millions of babies in the world who NEED to be welcomed….THEY ARE ALREADY HERE YOU IGNORANT COW (sorry bovinitians…)….maybe rape promoters could someday trade their misogyny for reality, compassion and love instead of brutality, hunger games and hate.

    EVOLVE already!!!!!!!

  7. This here is a pedophile victim production support law.

    Guy rapes a woman to get her pregnant. She’s not allowed to abort the foetus. She claims it was rape and he said she begged him so he’s not charged or, if he is charged, he pays a good defense lawyer to emphasize enough reasonable doubt that he does at least as well as Alleged Rapist Kenneth Smith. Then, when the baby is born, he sues for custody because the mother is already known to be (a) a liar and perjuror and (b) a would-be baby-killer. He probably gets a restraining order against the mom leaving town and he gets custody the minute the baby is born. He gets all kinds of sympathy for having to raise the baby himself so naturally lots of women are willing to become his next girlfriend and help him take care of the poor little thing. Mom can’t have visitation (she’s dangerous to the baby, remember?) but she has to pay child support. The kid is then in dad’s sole care, custody and control and when the kid reaches dad’s preferred age, if his preferred age is high enough for HER to get pregnant and bear him the next generation of victims, he’ll produce another few victims through her uterus. This is the future (if it isn’t already the present); get used to it.

    Pregnant American women need to figure out their options and KEEP THEIR PASSPORTS HANDY AT ALL TIMES.

  8. Oh, and by the way, Cathrynn Brown is a disgusting excuse for a human being, but hey, what do we think our Judiciary Committee is composed of anyway?

  9. The bill is unlikely to pass, as Democrats have a majority in both chambers of New Mexico’s state legislature. Just more of the GOP war on women…..

  10. I just drove through the great state of NM and this was in the news. As w/ all 50 states, the people have more sense than their pols. NM is in my top 5 states for food.

  11. nick, This woman is not really representative of the state and maybe not even of her district. You are right about the food.

  12. Is this one of the reformed republicans we have been hearing so much about?

    Bobby Jindal pleaded for his fellow republicans to stop being “the party of stupid.”

    Perhaps the message has not made it to some of the reformed challenged areas of republicandom.

  13. The fact that this woman even thought that such a law was appropriate is outrageous. Unfortunately, she is the tip of the right wing Christian community that sees women as things to be controled and used by men. As to the fact that this was proposed by a woman, we have seen this type of conduct in the past coming from women who agree with and support the patriarchia belief that women are to be seen and not heard. They always explain their actions by saying they are special, specially chosen to be the voice crying in the dessert. I would say that this woman is special alright and not in a good way.

  14. I love New Mexico and its people. However, it has acquired its share of right-wing ideologues. What I find particularly disturbing, however, is the increasing tendency of state legislatures across the country to propose blatantly unconstitutional laws. It is a virtual epidemic.

  15. After Tiller: 40 Years Since Roe v. Wade, Abortion Providers Continue Work of Slain Kansas Doctor

    Forty years after the landmark Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion, the new documentary “After Tiller” follows the only four doctors left in the United States who are known to provide abortions in the third trimester. In 2009, their colleague, Dr. George Tiller, was assassinated while attending church in Wichita, Kansas. The four doctors depicted in the film have also braved threats, harassment and the emotional weight of the stories they hear to provide women with a desperately needed medical procedure. We’re joined by the directors of “After Tiller,” Lana Wilson and Martha Shane.


    Martha Shane, co-director of After Tiller, a documentary that premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

    Lana Wilson, co-director of After Tiller, a documentary that premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

  16. Mike Appleton, I’ve found w/ the border states of Texas, NM, AZ and to a lesser degree Ca. it gets more conservative the closer you get to the border. This is a generality, but the liberal areas in those states are further north.

  17. nick, Not texas,….The valley is the most liberal part of the state. El Paso elects liberal reps, too. That lady would never be elected in South Texas. She looks like a lady that would be elected around Amarillo.

  18. As a lawyer who has tried many rape cases the EVIDENCE of rape is a the rape trauma exam which obtains DNA of the rapist and physical evidence of forcible rape/ This ignorant woman does not seem to know that the actual fetus proves nothing other than the identity of the father.

  19. “the EVIDENCE of rape is a the rape trauma exam which obtains DNA of the rapist and physical evidence of forcible rape”


    Has it right and so this proposal was a blatant attempt to find away around Roe v. Wade. It is an example of a tendency in us humans to concoct an idea that at first blush seems “brilliant” and put it forth without further examination of its premises. My guess is that when she first proposed it, she did it with a kind of “gotcha” exhilaration, thinking she had foreclosed one abortion option.
    As the negative reactions poured in she was forced to backtrack and perhaps even see that her “brilliance” was fatally flawed. The upside for her is that in the minds of her anti-abortion followers she’s solidified her anti-abortion credentials. You just can’t make this stuff up.

  20. So, Republicans go from “a rape and incest exception” meaning NO abortions except in cases of rape or incest to ALL abortions except in cases of rape or incest. Whoever thought of that idea, brilliant!!

  21. This representative is a fool to think anyone is buying her claim of this being a drafting error.

    As for a prosecution basis on evidence of rapes. A DNA test could be done on evidence collected during a sexual assault exam or could even (though I haven’t seee it done) be done on the tissue of the aborted fetus.

    If the entire purpose of forcing the victim to carry to baby to term is unnecessary. During the abortion procudure it would be evident the woman had become pregnant and when and the DNA test could decide who impregnated her. And, I am talking in strictly practical terms for collection of evidence without even getting into the clearly unconstitutional issue with the abortion itself.

    This is also equivalent to telling a person who’s car has been vandalized that they cannot repair it after the police investigation because it would constitute destruction of evidence.

  22. Mike Appleton
    1, January 25, 2013 at 10:11 am
    I love New Mexico and its people. However, it has acquired its share of right-wing ideologues. What I find particularly disturbing, however, is the increasing tendency of state legislatures across the country to propose blatantly unconstitutional laws. It is a virtual epidemic.
    and on the post regarding the Inigo T-shirt someone wrote that people are currently in the throes of irrational fear….. THIS sort of legislative behaviour does NOTHING to inspire confidence in our governance….

  23. She must be removed from the judiciary committee immediately. She has no seniority so it should be fairly easy to do.

    Isn’t she one of those first term teabaggers?

  24. If I understand the error correctly it wold be when the rapist forces his victim to have an aboriton that the evidence tampering would occur.

  25. I just this minute heard she is going to be a guest on the Anderson Cooper show tonight. I’ll get the popcorn.

  26. Blouise, Yep, She was elected in 2010. That was the year where the turnout was low as you know. Much destruction was done. I hope I never hear that stay home bs again.

  27. OS:

    that should be a good show. I am not sure why she would agree to go on 360. Anderson isnt a mental giant in the tradition of Larry King but this should make for some good TV.


    “We must not confuse potentiality with actuality. An embryo is a potential human being. It can, granted the woman’s choice, develop into an infant. But what it actually is during the first trimester is a mass of relatively undifferentiated cells that exist as a part of a woman’s body. If we consider what it is rather than what it might become, we must acknowledge that the embryo under three months is something far more primitive than a frog or a fish. To compare it to an infant is ludicrous.

    If we are to accept the equation of the potential with the actual and call the embryo an “unborn child,” we could, with equal logic, call any adult an “undead corpse” and bury him alive or vivisect him for the instruction of medical students.

    That tiny growth, that mass of protoplasm, exists as a part of a woman’s body. It is not an independently existing, biologically formed organism, let alone a person. That which lives within the body of another can claim no right against its host. Rights belong only to individuals, not to collectives or to parts of an individual. (“Independent” does not mean self-supporting — a child who depends on its parents for food, shelter, and clothing, has rights because it is an actual, separate human being.)

    “Rights,” in Ayn Rand’s words, “do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born.”

    It is only on this base that we can support the woman’s political right to do what she chooses in this issue. No other person — not even her husband — has the right to dictate what she may do with her own body. That is a fundamental principle of freedom.”

  29. Bron:
    I think Larry King is more of a personal therapist kind of interviewer in the style of an Oprah, or that genre. Anderson Cooper is not the bulldog that somebody like Mike Wallace was, but he is more aggressive than King and is not afraid to ask hard questions. I plan to watch. I doubt we will see a bloodied nose, but it should still be interesting.

  30. SwM,

    There’s an interesting opinion piece in the NYTimes today by Egan entitled The Tomorrow Majority illustrating facts that clearly point to … “The country isn’t more liberal — but the center has moved, and Republicans have not.”

    This wing-nut, Brown, is out of New Mexico’s 55th District …read their census stats … and an excellent example of what’s wrong with the Republican party and why their futureis so bleak.

  31. SwM,

    There’s an interesting opinion piece in the NYTimes today by Egan entitled The Tomorrow Majority illustrating facts that clearly point to … “The country isn’t more liberal — but the center has moved, and Republicans have not.”

    This wing-nut, Brown, is out of New Mexico’s 55th District …read their census stats … and an excellent example of what’s wrong with the Republican party and why their future is so bleak.

  32. Brown should pull out now, like her father should have at the time of conception. And since life begins at conception then the evidence of the rape is right there before you when you have the abortion. Simply save the evidence and mail it in to Brown. People all over the country need to preserve the evidence and ship it, slow mail, so it stinks, to Brown.

    Wow she is an ugly thing. Whats up with the outfit? Nurse Bloggett?

  33. Personally, I prefer Charlie Rose as an interviewer. He commands a keen memory and has fantastic depth in his understanding of many things.

    In my view his program on the PBS stations is one of the top 3 shows on TV. Especially in it sans-commercial format.

    My problem with most of the other interview format programs is the constant interruptions the hosts hurl against their guests to interject their ego into the discussion. Seldom does the interview in these go beyond only the topical, with sound bites being the large part of the interview.

    He’s going to be a hard person to replace when he retires, I don’t have a lot of faith that marketing forces would hire anyone other than the Oprah types these days.

    The other favorite was the late Louis Rukeyser. I watched the last show he had on Wall Street Week (after 30 some years of hosting the show) when he ripped the network execs for wanting to relegate him to a 5 minute slot while these young talking heads took over the show to garner ratings. I was a bit angered when he was fired. I watched one episode of the new Wall Street Week and refused to watch it again. Fortunately it wasn’t long before he was sponsored for a new show of his own. There were a great many people who wanted him.

    And quite rightly, the show Lou was fired from failed some time afterward.

  34. Several states seem determined to undermine Roe v Wade, by introducing regulations and conditions that in effect make abortion impossible. For example, the Arizona bill HB206 including the “Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion” provisions would be such an example. But would it be constitutional ?

    For two centuries, the Supreme Court has acknowledged the principle of “Supremacy” (Article VI Clause 2 of the constitution), that a state law that “amounts to a destruction of a right”, federally granted from the constitutional powers of the Supreme court,is unconstitutional.

    The Arizona provisions above, provide no exemptions, no exclusions. A rape victim wishing to procure an abortion under such circumstances would have no opportunity to circumvent the legislation, and not surprisingly, given that it is the entire purpose of the legislation.

    So what of the 14th amendment rights granted under Roe v Wade ?

    It is deliciously ironic that the vehemently anti abortion Supreme Court Justice Scalia himself, reminded us of this in 2008 in Heller (2008), where he argues that a state law that “has the effect of” denying a person the “right to bear arms” would violate a person’s second amendment rights.

    Scalia returns to State v. Reid, (1840) to emphasise this by stating, “A statute which, under the pretence of regulating, amounts to a destruction of the right, or which requires arms to be so borne as to render them wholly useless for the purpose of defence, would be clearly unconstitutional”.

    Scalia himself reminds us of the grounds upon which the AZ statute would be struck down. A law, which has the effect of denying a person the right to an abortion, would thus (as per Roe v Wade) violate her 14th amendment rights, and would be unconstitutional.

    Note : See also for example
    – Edgar v. Mite Corporation 1982, “It is therefore apparent that the Illinois statute is a direct restraint on interstate commerce and that it has a sweeping extraterritorial effect”. ….. violating the Supremacy clause, and
    – Cooper v. Aaron 1958,
    – Ableman v. Booth 1859, and
    – McCulloch v. Maryland 1819.

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