Update (11:20 am): Rep. Brown announced that she will put in a substitute bill. See her comments at the bottom of the post.
House Bill 206, brought by Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, is sure to be one of the most controversial bills of the session. While other bills do all they can to discourage women from having abortions by delaying the process, this bill would actually make it a third degree felony to not carry to term a pregnancy that is the result of rape or incest.
ProgressNow New Mexico executive director Pat Davis calls the bill “blatantly unconstitutional” and opposes the bill.
“The bill turns victims of rape and incest, who have just been through a horrible sexual assault, into felons and forces them to become incubators of evidence for the state,” David said in a statement. “According to Republican philosophy, victims who are ‘legitimately raped’ will now have to carry the fetus to term in order to prove their case.”
The bill adds this language to the law on tampering of evidence:
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.
This means the bill would also likely charge any doctor performing the abortion with the third-degree felony of tampering with evidence.
While the progressive group ProgressNow New Mexico invoked U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin, R-Mo., the bill will likely draw more comparisons to U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, R-Ind. Mourdock, when asked about an exception for rape or incest to laws banning abortion, said, “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Both Akin and Mourdock lost Senate races the Republican Party was favored to win.
“House Bill 206 was never intended to punish or criminalize rape victims,” said Rep. Brown. “Its intent is solely to deter rape and cases of incest. The rapist—not the victim—would be charged with tampering of evidence. I am submitting a substitute draft to make the intent of the legislation abundantly clear.”