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New Mexico Considering New 'Forcible Rape' Language For Child Care Assistance Policy

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New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R)
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R)

The Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) of New Mexico is considering an amendment to its child care assistance policy to exempt victims of "forcible rape" from having to file child support claims against the absent parent.

Under current policy, anyone who applies and qualifies for child care assistance from the state of New Mexico is required to file a child support claim against any absent parent. The newly proposed amendment exempts a woman from contacting the other parent if her child "was conceived as a result of incest or forcible rape."

The CYFD will hold a public hearing on the change on Oct. 1, but it is unclear when the amendment would go into effect if it is approved.

However, if the amendment passes a woman whose rape is not ruled "forcible," such as a young victim of statutory rape, would be forced to contact her rapist for child support in order to receive any state assistance.

"That's what's so confusing -- when it gets down to a caseworker deciding whether I'm exempt or not," said Adriann Barboa, the field director for the New Mexico branch of Strong Families. "What's the litmus test for whether it was forcible rape? This seems like a covert way of normalizing this language."

House Republicans, including Reps. Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Todd Akin (Mo.), supported a bill in 2011 that would have redefined rape as it related to abortion insurance coverage, and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R), a former prosecutor, also used the "forcible rape" language in an executive proclamation earlier this year.

“When are we going to stop looking for ways to minimize the violence against women?" K.C. Quirk, executive director of Crossroads for Women in Albuquerque, N.M., said in a statement. "Rape by definition is already an act of power and control.”

Martinez's office and the CYFD did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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