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Speaker of House defends state rep who introduced rape and incest bill

By   /   January 24, 2013  /   No Comments

The Democratic Speaker of the House came to the defense of Republican state Rep. Cathrynn Brown of Eddy County after liberal groups, bloggers and websites attacked her for a bill concerning rape that Rep. Brown says has been badly misconstrued.

“If she says it wasn’t her intention (to ignite a controversy), I will take her at her word,” Speaker W. Ken Martinez (D-Grant) said Thursday. “She’s a good person.”

Cathrynn Brown (R-Carlsbad)

Cathrynn Brown (R-Carlsbad)

At issue is the wording in Brown’s House Bill 206 that says in the case of a woman getting pregnant after rape or incest that an abortion would be considered “tampering with evidence.”

Brown says the intent of the bill is to make sure that the perpetrator of the rape or incest does not try to coerce the woman to undergo an abortion in order to cover up his crime.

“House Bill 206 was never intended to punish or criminalize rape victims,” said Brown said in a statement. “Its intent is solely to deter rape and cases of incest. The rapist—not the victim—would be charged with tampering of evidence. I am submitting a substitute draft to make the intent of the legislation abundantly clear.”

Brown’s statement came after a liberal political group, Progress Now New Mexico, had sent out a press release Thursday morning saying Brown “just introduced a bill to charge a rape victim who ended her pregnancy with a third-degree felony for ‘tampering with evidence.’ ”

The Democratic Party of New Mexico followed with its own news release and within a couple of hours, the liberal website, The Huffington Post, picked up the story making the same allegation. At 7 p.m. MST, the Huffington Post story had received more than 12,000 comments.

Brown’s contact information on the Legislature’s website was taken down Thursday, apparently after the state rep was flooded with negative e-mails and phone calls. Even an unrelated YouTube clip from an interview Capitol Report New Mexico conducted with Brown a year ago on an unrelated topic received comments calling Brown a “bitch” and worse.

“I take her at her word,” Speaker Martinez said, although he did add that he thought the wording in the bill “was troublesome” and House Democrats sent out a news release that included Martinez on the letterhead blasting Brown.

“Although Rep. Brown has tried to clarify the intent of the legislation,” the release said in part, “it is clear this is really another attempt to limit the tough choices women face following sexual assault, rather than to punish a perpetrator of a rape.”

Brown is a conservative Republican from Carlsbad who, in her three years in the House, is best-known for trying to pass photo voter ID laws.

HB206 is scheduled to be heard in the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee, which is made up of three Democrats and two Republicans.

“I’m guessing it won’t go far,” Speaker Martinez said in what is the understatement of this 60-day session.

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Since 2010, Rob Nikolewski has covered New Mexico politics and investigated fraud, waste and abuse in government. He also writes an opinion column in the Sunday editions of the Santa Fe New Mexican. Rob joined New Mexico Watchdog after 20 years in television as a sports anchor and reporter. He anchored at MSNBC, New York City, Boston, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Reno and Boise, winning three regional Emmy awards along the way. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, a master's in public administration from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and a bachelor's degree in journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio.

  • Jason M

    What an embarrassment. The Republicans are just shoveling ammunition to the enemy with both hands.

  • Dahna

    CONTACT INFORMATION

    Campaign Email

    c.brown.nm55@gmail.com

    Campaign Website

    http://cathrynnbrown.com/

    Capitol Website

    http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/legdetails.aspx?SPONCODE=HBROW

    District Email

    brown55@windstream.net

    Office Social Media

    Campaign

    1814 North Guadalupe Street

    Carlsbad, NM 88220

    Phone: 575-885-0624

    Capitol

    Santa Fe, NM 87501

    Phone: 505-986-4211

    District

    1814 North Guadalupe Street

    Carlsbad, NM 88220

    Phone: 575-302-2746

    Phone: 575-885-0624

  • Elmer Gantry

    New Mexico State Rep. Cathrynn Brown is an attroney — how is it that she is seemingly incapable of correctly writing and submitting her own correct bill to a New Mexico House of Reprsentatives staffer…?