Crazy -- Republican Lawmaker Wants to Jail Rape Victims for Ending Pregnancies

A New Mexico lawmaker has proposed that the fetus is evidence and terminating it could cost women three years in jail.

Apparently it took a female Republican to come up with the most vicious way to punish women who had the audacity to get themselves raped.

Wednesday, state representative Cathrynn Brown of New Mexico introduced a bill whose sheer audacity makes Todd Akins look as harmless as an ill-informed teenager groping his way through puberty.

The proposed legislation, House Bill 206, would make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion after being raped because the fetus is evidence of the crime. A women who does choose to have an abortion would be charged with the third-degree felony of “tampering with evidence,” which carries up to a three year prison sentence in New Mexico.

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As the bill states:

“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.

In other words, Brown just said to rape victims: give birth to this baby or you’ll go to jail.

Besides being the sheer definition of cruel and unusual punishment, the proposed legislation highlights the hypocrisy in prosecuting rape and sexual assault in the United States.

Brown said in a statement that the legislation is intended to strengthen prosecution against rapists and prevent them from pressuring women who they have violently impregnated to have an abortion.

“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.”

Yet, the reality is that men are almost never investigated, prosecuted and convicted of rape, and that this law will instead criminalize women who have been the victim of men’s crimes.

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), only three percent of rapes end with the rapist serving a criminal conviction. (Because rape is one of the most undercounted crime, this analysis factors in unreported rapes.) 

The other 97 percent of all rapists never spend a night in jail.

This low accountability rate is far from a problem of scant evidence at trial. According to RAINN, only 12 percent of rapes even lead to an arrest, signifying that increasing reporting rates and requiring police investigations are the main law enforcement changes necessary to “protect women across the state.”

The idea that the overwhelming majority of rapists are never prosecuted or convicted but that their victims could instead be subjected to three years in jail is literally insane. The bill is unlikely to pass given the Democratic majority in the state's legislature. But the legislation still spurs the question: Dear Republicans, what the fuck will you come up with next?


Laura Gottesdiener is a freelance journalist and the author of "A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home," forthcoming from Zuccotti Park Press.