In a truly bizarre case of “legislative remorse,” GOP New Mexico State Rep. Cathrynn Brown apparently came to her senses to realize the bill she’d introduced to the legislature on Thursday, January 24, 2013, was a REALLY BAD IDEA.
As was covered by Addicting Info earlier today in a piece titled New Mexico Bill Could Turn Pregnancy By Rape Into Evidence And Abortions Into Felonies, the bill put forth by Rep. Brown, House Bill 206, was originally worded so that the law would essentially charge a rape victim who aborts her pregnancy as a third-degree felon for “tampering with evidence” (punishable by up to three years in 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.”
According to The Huffington Post, Rep. Brown even further elucidated on her intent as follows:
UPDATE: 12:25 p.m. [1.24] — 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.”
Well, even Rep. Brown came to realize how insane that sounds and with the prodding influence of fierce public backlash, she offered a somewhat feeble rethinking of what she put into place. According to a piece that ran later Thursday in the Carlsbad Current-Argus (New Mexico), a somewhat chagrined Brown admitted to at least some measure of her folly.
“I missed this one,” she said, explaining that when she reviewed the draft of her bill, she missed the language problems that led to misinterpretation of her bill.
Albuquerque Rep. Nate Gentry supported Brown’s assertion, adding, “She’s horrified.”
She said the bill is being reworked for clarity.
“Horrified.” She’s a lawyer and a legislator. Didn’t anyone teach her along the way to proofread her work before she publishes it? We writers get killed for getting it wrong, but a legislator who puts a bill on the table?? Wow. Though, to her credit, she did go back in to tweak the verbiage of the bill to specify:
“A person who commits sexual penetration or incest and who procures an abortion of a fetus resulting from the crime with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime is guilty of tampering with evidence, prohibiting prosecution of the mother of the fetus … In no circumstance shall the mother of the fetus be charged.”
So, in other words, if the rapist sticks around to convince the rape victim to get an abortion, that’s the crime: “tampering with evidence.” But if that’s the case, and despite Brown’s insistence that “the mother of the fetus would never be charged,” if the rapee agrees to said abortion (and clearly she’d have to be involved), wouldn’t she be a colluder? An accomplice? Dear God, can you see how complicated this could get?
Apparently the urge to push her pro-life agenda into law supersedes logic or complication and Rep. Brown is well-known for her stance on the issue; from Salon:
Brown’s apparent interest in protecting women should be taken within the context of her other pursuits, however, like serving on the board of Carlsbad’s Right to Life chapter, and posting images from the Life Issues Institute on her Facebook page. The Institute describes its mission as “assuring … equal protection under the law for all living humans from the beginning of their biological life at fertilization.”
So given her known political position on the issue of choice, along with the sheer idiocy and heinous “punish the victim” ramifications of House Bill 206, the response was swift and it wasn’t pretty. The story was covered by national media, social media had a heyday with it; Brown removed her contact information from her legislature web page (though the progressive website, ProgressNow New Mexico, conveniently reposted it for interested constituents), and her personal website was pummeled by so many angry respondents, she quickly added a mea culpa of sorts on the home page, illuminating the now-reworked focus of the bill:
This is the bill that I will introduce that protects women and girls from incest and other sex crimes: It makes it clear that the mother of the fetus would never be charged.??This bill ensures the prosecution of the offender and protection of the victim.
Will that be enough to assuage her many angry constituents in the state of New Mexico, or do much to ameliorate her now-trending reputation as a right-wing demagogue on a par with Todd Akin and his ilk? Remains to be seen.
She, however, while apparently taken aback by all the fuss, appears to be reveling somewhat in her new-found fame. Bemoaning the fact that she’s been bombarded by hate mail and angry calls, she also made note that Anderson Cooper invited her to his show to discuss the bill:
“I’m really considering it,” Brown said. “It will give me the opportunity to talk about my bill and what I hope it will accomplish, if it passes. It may sound strange coming from a legislator, but I really don’t like the limelight. I would rather go about the work quietly and get the job done. Going on these shows will allow me to set the record straight.” [Source]
Ah, fame. Such a pushover. Just take your religious zealotry, mix it with a little legislative mumbo-jumbo, put a ridiculous ill-thought-out bill on the table, then pretend you’re “horrified.” Fifteen minutes, comin’ up!
When the “war on women” is perpetuated by women, it’s bad enough. When that woman then tries to pretend her intentions are good, only her timing and verbiage might have been a tad off, let’s call it what it is: bullshit. When it comes to the right, apparently bullshit has no gender preference.