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New Mexico Bill Would Send Women To Jail For Abortions (But Will Be Revised)

The crime: "tampering with evidence." [UPDATE: The lawmaker who introduced the bill says that isn't the aim and plans to update the bill.]

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WASHINGTON — New Mexico State Rep. Cathrynn N. Brown introduced legislation in the Statehouse Wednesday that would make it a crime of "tampering with evidence" for a person to have or "facilitat[e]" an abortion of a fetus that resulted from rape or incest.

Brown, a lawyer who sits on the Judiciary Committee, introduced the bill on Wednesday as part of the legislature's 2013 60-day session.

The full bill would amend the state's definition of "tampering with evidence" to include the following:

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.

Because the underlying crime of rape is a felony, the "tampering with evidence" crime conviction also would be a felony under state law.

According to the Carlsbad Current-Argus, Brown served on the Science, Technology and Communications Committee and the Courts, Corrections and Justice Interim Committee in 2012.

On Jan. 16, Brown also introduced a voter ID bill in the legislature.

UPDATE: According to the Associated Press, it was not Brown's aim to include rape victims as among those who could be prosecuted under the change in the law:

Rep. Cathrynn Brown of Carlsbad said Thursday she'll revise the bill and had intended to make it a crime for a rapist in cases of incest to force a pregnant victim to have an abortion or to arrange for the abortion.

Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.

Contact Chris Geidner at

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