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New Mexico Bill Would Criminalize Abortions After Rape As 'Tampering With Evidence'

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A Republican lawmaker in New Mexico introduced a bill on Wednesday that would legally require victims of rape to carry their pregnancies to term in order to use the fetus as evidence for a sexual assault trial.

House Bill 206, introduced by state Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R), would charge a rape victim who ended her pregnancy with a third-degree felony for "tampering with 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 says.

Third-degree felonies in New Mexico carry a sentence of up to three years in prison.

Pat Davis of ProgressNow New Mexico, a progressive nonprofit opposing the bill, called it "blatantly unconstitutional" on Thursday.

“The bill turns victims of rape and incest into felons and forces them to become incubators of evidence for the state,” he said. “According to Republican philosophy, victims who are ‘legitimately raped’ will now have to carry the fetus to term in order to prove their case.“

The bill is unlikely to pass, as Democrats have a majority in both chambers of New Mexico's state legislature.

UPDATE: 12:25 p.m. -- Brown said in a statement Thursday that she introduced the bill with the goal of punishing the person who commits incest or rape and then procures or facilitates an abortion to destroy the evidence of the crime.

“New Mexico needs to strengthen its laws to deter sex offenders,” said Brown. “By adding this law in New Mexico, we can help to protect women across our state.”

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