N.M. State Rep Takes Heat for Bill That Criminalizes Abortion in Cases of Rape
New Mexico State Rep. Cathrynn Brown has come under attack for a bill she recently introduced that would brand survivors of rape and incest who become pregnant and chose to have abortions as felons.
On Wednesday, Brown, a Republican from Carlsbad, submitted House bill 206, which equates a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest as evidence, meaning that terminating the pregnancy would constitute destruction 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," the bill reads.
A spokeswoman from NARAL, which supports abortion rights, said the group was keeping an eye on the legislation.
"Any elected official who wants to put criminal liability on survivors of rape or incest is cold-blooded," said Donna Crane, policy director for NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The New Mexico Democratic Party pegged the bill as another attack in the "war on women."
"This is a sad day for women, and really a sad day for all New Mexicans," Javier Gonzales, chairman of the New Mexico Democratic Party, wrote in a statement Thursday. "Instead of focusing on the No. 1 priority of bringing jobs to New Mexico, Republican lawmakers continue their war on women by introducing this atrocious piece of legislation. It's like Republicans were wearing blinders when the results came in last November, because Republicans lost numerous seats on this very issue, but they apparently did not get the message."
Brown's office responded today, saying any characterization of the bill as targeting survivors was "a misinterpretation of the intent of the legislation." The Current-Argus of Carlsbad reported that Brown blames "a drafting error" for this mistake.
Brown plans to submit a new bill "to make the intent of the legislation abundantly clear."
"House Bill 206 was never intended to punish or criminalize rape victims," Brown said in a statement emailed to ABC News. "Its intent is solely to deter rape and cases of incest. The rapist - not the victim - would be charged with tampering of evidence."
Scott Forrester, spokesman for the Democratic Party of New Mexico, said the party "would have to look at any new legislation introduced."
"But this is what she introduced," Forrester said of House bill 206. "This is what New Mexicans are seeing, and they're outraged by what Rep. Brown has introduced."
Constituents and critics outside New Mexico took to Brown's Facebook page to express that outrage. Many took personal digs at the Republican state lawmaker, even going so far as to comment on a recent picture of her son's graduation, asking, "Are you teaching your son to be a rapist?"
Nine representatives co-sponsored the legislation, according to Forrester. But with a Democratic majority in both New Mexico's House and Senate, the bill wouldn't seem to have much chance of passing.