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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 a Supreme Court correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Chris Geidner at

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