N.M. abortion bill draws heavy fire

SANTA FE (KRQE) — What a state representative claims was a drafting error in a proposed bill is drawing national fire because of accusations she was trying to criminalize rape victims.

On Wednesday Rep. Cathrynn Brown , R-Carlsbad, introduced House Bill 206 , a bill titled "Abortion as Evidence Tampering in Some Cases."

Hours later 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."

Although Brown says her bill was intended to go after rapists who try to force victims into getting an abortion, the bill's language would appear to make it a felony punishable by up to three years in prison for a victim to get an abortion to help cover up rape or incest.

HB 206 drew an outraged response from Democratic lawmakers and party leaders.

" I was shocked in reading it," said Rep. Gail Chasey , D-Albuquerque. "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.

"This bill is wrong, and should never see the light of day in any legislature in this country, let alone New Mexico," said New Mexico Democratic Party Chair Javier Gonzales in a statement.

Brown initially told KRQE News 13 Thursday morning that critics were simply reading her bill wrong. In a second interview later in the day, Brown backed off claiming that a drafter had messed up the bill's language, an error the attorney says she missed when she reviewed the bill before introducing it.

"W hen he fixed some of the tampering language in the bill, somehow it just kind of missed the emphasis I thought I'd made clear in the beginning," Brown said.

She says she's going to introduce a substitute version with language that makes it clear that rape or incest victims could not be charged with tampering with evidence for getting an abortion under her version of the bill.

This isn't the first abortion-related proposal 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.

Copyright 2014 KRQE TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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New Mexico (change)

New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.
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Governor: Susana Martinez
Lieutenant Governor: John Sanchez
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