Republicans Turn Victims of Rape and Incest into Felons and Forced Incubators

handmaids tale

In New Mexico yesterday, Republicans treated us to “Exhibit A” legislation, introduced as House Bill 206. It criminalizes the ending of a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest in some cases, declaring the fetus to be evidence in a criminal trial.

I’ve been pointing out for a while now that House Republicans were going out of their way to give rapists more access to victims (via GOP’s version of the Violence Against Women Act) and forcing a rape victim to carry her rapist’s baby to term, while also granting the rapist access to the child, inadvertently (?) incentivizing rape. Republicans have also been working on redefining rape and trying to pass laws so that victims would be renamed “accusers”. But now, they have finally found a way to just come out and say it.

If you get raped or molested, you are the criminal. If you don’t carry the fetus to term, you may face up to three years in prison.

New Mexico Republicans got one of their token females, Republican State Representative Cathrynn Brown, to introduce HB206 in the New Mexico Legislature — new legislation that would force a rape victim to carry the fetus to term in order to preserve evidence (since when do Republicans care about rape evidence?).

The bill reads, “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 or criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.”

The only good news I can potentially see here is that Republicans are claiming to care about rape evidence, and so in a world in which their values were consistent, House Republicans would pass the new bipartisan Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act. The new verion of the VAWA seeks to address the epidemic of untested rape kits. If Republicans want evidence, a rape kit might be a bit easier than forcing a woman to carry a fetus to term.

But if they really wanted evidence in order to prosecute rape, then they wouldn’t need to force a woman to carry a rapist’s fetus to term — they could simply test the aborted fetus, or better yet, process the rape kit. While science and the female body are proving to be too complicated for your modern day GOP, this bill isn’t about evidence. This is about finally finding a way to criminalize victims of rape and incest, so as to protect the perpetrators of those crimes, as all patriarchal systems do (Penn State, the Catholic Church, the Stuebenville football culture, etc). Money and power versus the rape/incest victim.

How many women will be reporting a rape if they know they’ll be forced to carry the fetus to term? Even less than report it right now.

“In addition to being blatantly un-Constitutional, the bill turns victims of rape and incest into felons and forces them to become incubators of evidence for the state,” said Pat Davis of ProgressNow New Mexico in a statement to PoliticusUSA. “According to Republican philosophy, victims who are ‘legitimately raped’ will now have to carry the fetus to term in order to prove their case.”

Incubators of evidence and felons? It’s called punishment for reporting a rape.

While hopefully this bill has little chance of passing, it’s important in the sense that it reveals the intentions behind Republican policies relating to women. Taken in context with their refusal to pass the Violence Against Women Act and their many egregious comments about rape and rape victims, it appears as if the intention behind this bill is to protect rapists by inhibiting the reporting of rape.

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