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New Mexico Republican Lawmaker Cathrynn Brown Introduces Bill to Jail Rape Victims Who Have Abortions

Cathrynn-BrownA Republican state lawmaker in New Mexico has introduced a controversial bill that would require women and girls who become pregnant as a result of rape to carry the fetuses to term.

Under House Bill 206, introduced by Rep. Cathrynn Brown, rape victims who terminate unwanted pregnancies would be charged with a third degree felony for “tampering with evidence.” Such a crime could be punishable by as many as three years in prison.

According to the bill, “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.”

Rep. Brown says the intent of the measure is to be able to use to the fetuses resulting from rape pregnancies as evidence against the alleged perpetrators.

The Democratic Party of New Mexico released a statement condemning Brown’s measure.

“This bill is wrong, and should never see the light of day in any legislature in this country, let alone New Mexico,” the statement issued by state party chairman Javier Gonzales said. “The War on Women in America has to stop. No woman should ever be forced to carry a child for ‘evidence,’ plain and simple.”

University of New Mexico Law Professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez told NBC News that the bill could have a “chilling effect” on women’s reproductive rights.

UPDATE: Following public outcry, Rep. Brown has backtracked and amended her controversial bill.

“House Bill 206 was never intended to punish or criminalize rape victims,” Rep. Brown. said on Friday. “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.”

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