Legislation & Lobbying

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

A New Mexico lawmaker says the critics misinterpreted her proposed bill that appeared to criminalize abortions by victims of rape and incest.

The bill said procuring abortions in cases of rape and incest could constitute tampering with evidence, a crime meriting a sentence of up to three years in prison, the Washington Post, ABC News and the Carlsbad Current-Argus report. The exact wording: “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.”

News of the bill led to creation of a Facebook page calling for resignation of the bill’s sponsor, New Mexico state Rep. Cathrynn Brown. But Brown says poor writing is to blame for the furor. Brown says she wanted to make it a crime for a rapist or perpetrator of incest to force the victim to have an abortion.

Brown, a lawyer, said the bill “was never intended to punish or criminalize rape victims,” according to the Post account. She told the Current-Argus that she didn’t catch the drafting error when she reviewed the bill. “I missed this one,” she said.

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