New Mexico lawmaker wants to prosecute rape survivors who get abortions

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State Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R.

A New Mexico legislator has introduced a measure that would make it a crime for a woman to terminate a pregnancy that resulted from rape.

State Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, said abortion after a rape is tampering with evidence. If her bill became law, it would be a third-degree felony punishable by three years in prison to abort a pregnancy that resulted from rape.

The provision in Brown’s bill 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."

ACLU of New Mexico executive director Peter Simonson responded to the Brown's proposal: "This bill criminalizes rape survivors who seek to have an abortion. It would force a rape survivor to choose between cooperating in the prosecution of her abuser and terminating an unwanted pregnancy that was forced upon her. Most New Mexicans agree that we should not punish survivors of sexual assault for the crime that was perpetrated upon them. Rape survivors need care and support, not a felony charge."

ACLU of New Mexico legal director Laura Schauer Ives said, "Forcing someone else to destroy evidence of sexual assault is already a crime under the current tampering with evidence statute. This bill can only serve to criminalize rape survivors who seek abortions."

The bill is not likely to advance in either chamber, given that both the New Mexico House and New Mexico Senate have Democratic majorities.