Under HB 206, if a woman ended her pregnancy after being raped, both she and her doctor would be charged with a felony punishable by up to 3 years in state prison:
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.
Sexual assault trials are infamously grueling for survivors, who are often subjected to character assassination and other attempts to discredit their accounts. State Rep. Cathrynn Brown’s (R) bill would add the forced choice between prison or an unwanted pregnancy to these proceedings.
After several failed GOP candidates, including Todd Akin (R-MO) and Richard Mourdock (R-IN), made offensive comments about rape victims during the last election season, Republican consultants launched sensitivity training to teach candidates how to avoid talking about rape. But GOP policy speaks for itself. At the federal level, former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced a failed bill that would negate sexual assault that are not deemed “forcible rape.” And another New Mexico lawmaker, Gov. Susana Martinez (R), advanced a proposal to require women who become pregnant from rape to prove they were “forcibly raped” in order to qualify for childcare assistance.
In addition to burdening victims of sexual assault, Brown’s bill also reveals some hypocrisy in the anti-abortion community. While anti-choice advocates maintain that a fetus should be afforded the full rights of personhood, charging abortion as “tampering with evidence” effectively turns the fetus into an object. This isn’t the first time so-called pro-life supporters have dropped the fetal personhood crusade when it was convenient — last year, a Catholic hospital in Colorado reversed its stance on fetal personhood in a malpractice suit, arguing in court that the term “person” should only apply to individuals who have already been born.