ABA Journal


Legislation & Lobbying

Lawyer-lawmaker blames poor writing for bill that would criminalize abortions by rape victims

Jan 28, 2013, 12:00 pm CST


Is Brown a graduate of a two-year law school?

By Pushkin on 2013 01 28, 1:13 pm CST

The infamous "I'm a dumbass" defense.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 28, 1:22 pm CST

Did she ever pass the bar?

By TMJ on 2013 01 28, 1:39 pm CST

I don't buy it. There is a huge segment of the American right that expressly wants to criminalize abortion, and the language quoted above unambiguously does so. It is not a question of interpreting some latent ambiguity in the text, but rather taking it at face value.

By Patrick on 2013 01 28, 3:45 pm CST

Don't the words "with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime" limit the proposal to instances where there might be a legitimate law enforcement interest?

By Mr.PC on 2013 01 28, 4:07 pm CST

Mr. PC, you may have missed the discussion during your 1L Crim Law class about the bootstrapping problem.

By Bob on 2013 01 28, 4:27 pm CST

This was a one page bill. What she is claiming in essence is that she did not read the bill before she signed and introduced it. That in itself is a rather candid admission of incompetence.

By Emanuele Corso, PhD on 2013 01 28, 5:17 pm CST

Wow, these right wing zealots are at it again - just can't let this "rape thing" go. So according to the lawmaker, a rapist would monitor his victims to find out if he got them pregnant, then force them to commit an abortion in order to destroy/tamper with evidence that might be used in the rape prosecution. I doubt this lawmaker is a lawyer. So for those cases where the rape victim does not get pregnant, prosecutors would not stand a chance of proving their cases.

By TeaParty= Bad-for-GOP on 2013 01 28, 5:41 pm CST

@ 8 - the story says "Brown, a lawyer, . . . "

By Pushkin on 2013 01 28, 5:58 pm CST

And then a stabbing victim who allows the knife to be removed from their body will also be guilty of tampering with evidence?

By Dr Phun on 2013 01 28, 7:35 pm CST

I hope, for her sake, that she is just a poor writer.

It makes me sick to my stomach to think of the state having the power to put an already-traumatized woman through another layer of agony when she already has to make an absolutely terrible decision...

By Another Andy on 2013 01 28, 7:51 pm CST

Well, I wouldn't dismiss #5s point of view so easily. Criminal statutes are strictly construed, which means to reduce their reach, not expand it. And how many attornies take more than first year criminal law/pro?

Some (many?) state legislatures have a legislative drafting office, staffed with lawyers, who assist the elected representatives with bill drafting. If so here, as it seems, one can also point fingers at them.

And yes, a bill should be good when introduced, but the legislative process provides many opportunities to get things right. And getting your phrases to modify what they are intended to modify, and not more or less, is not as easy as one might think, and commas make a difference.

I am supposing this arose out of family/friend rapes, not stranger rapes, where it goes unreported for quite a while, and the ongoing relationship allows the rapist/incestist (?) to exert pressure, pay for the abortion, etc.

I'm not sure just what it adds in terms of penalizing the wrongdoer (unlikely to deter him) - rape and incest carry hefty penalties, and how likely is it that tampering could be proven against the primary actor, but not the rape? Is not the victim likely also to be below the age of consent, upping the ante also? Anyone see a jury compromise where both rape and tampering are charged, when otherwise it would NG to rape? How about statutes on the books along the lines of misprison of a felony or aiders and abbeters after the fact? Those cover 3d party efforts with the requisite intent, don't they? Going to be hard to prove any which way - no, I helped because she didn't want to have a child, not to cover up for X.

Pretty polarizing subject, this. I see an attorney's obligation to be to use legal skills to reduce, rather than to increase, the frictions. Though they will never go away.

By Walt Fricke on 2013 01 29, 12:46 am CST

This is yet another solution in search of a problem.

By Island Attorney on 2013 01 29, 6:58 am CST

Could have been worse......The same logic underscoring the bill as originally written also would have required any raped woman to abstain from vaginal sex until after her rapist's trial, on pain of getting charged with interfering with a crime scene.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 01 31, 12:01 am CST

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