New Mexico lawmaker: Abortion considered destroying evidence
The Kansas City Star
A few days ago, pro-abortion activists commemorated the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America on 14th Amendment grounds. Since that time, activists on both sides have dug in, and at this point it is one of the most polarizing issues of the day. There’s been almost a constant game of cat-and-mouse (I’ll let you decide which is which) back-and-forth between tightening the restrictions on it, and undoing the restrictions that do get in. Quite often, these tussles happen at the state legislative level, where some quite…surprising ideas can be brought to bear.
Take a most recent example: Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R) of the New Mexico House introduced a bill (House Bill 206) which would make “procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion” of a fetus that is the result of rape or incest to be, and I’m not kidding here, “destroying evidence”.
Rep. Brown claims that the intent of the bill is to go after the criminal who, having committed rape or incest, forces the victim to undergo an abortion to get rid of the evidence against him. In fact, on her website she claims the bill “makes it clear that the mother of the fetus would never be charged.” However, having read the thing myself, as of this morning there is no such language. There appear to have been a couple of amendments to it already, but still it simply says, as noted above, anyone who “procures or facilitates”. If that happens to be the victim or, say, a concerned parent, no exception is made.
There are other problems with this bill as well. As I noted before, there’s very little in the way of common ground between the opposing forces in the abortion debate, but when it comes to situations in which a woman’s life or health is endangered, over 80 percent of us are in agreement that abortion should be an option, according to the latest Gallup numbers. Yet there is no such exemption in HB-206. So if a rape victim needed to abort or die, they would find themselves between the proverbial rock and hard place. Indeed, one is given to wonder in that situation if the victim were to die in the process of childbirth, would Rep. Brown consider that to be destroying evidence as well? I’m inclined to doubt it.
But on top of that — and what I have not seen mentioned elsewhere — there is a chilling effect at work. Rape is already one of the most under-reported crimes: the 2011 Crime Victimization Survey put the reporting rate around about 27 percent, and we have seen numbers varying wildly up and down, but almost never crossing the 50 percent mark. Now, put yourself in the place of a recent rape victim: you’re scared, violated, don’t know what to do. You’re afraid you might be pregnant. But if you get an abortion, and it’s known to have been the result of that rape, you will suddenly be guilty of a felony (up to Class 3, according to the bill in question). Now, bearing that in mind, are you more or less likely to report your rape to the police?
They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Rep. Brown may have had only the best intent for HB-206, but the bill as it stands does little to aid the cause of justice. It drives victims further underground, and actually endangers them by actively discouraging them from seeking help their lives may depend on. It is disingenuous at best, downright dangerous at worst. As we struggle forward trying to find common ground on this topic, our only real way forward is with thoughtful, intelligent people to get together and and work toward a “long game” strategy where abortion is rarely, if ever, needed anymore, while in the short term doing what we can to find the balancing point between two very different ways of seeing the world.
If it’s going to happen, it’s going to need a lot better effort than is being expended in New Mexico right now.