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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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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