US rape victims may face jail for aborting

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iol news pic abortion REUTERS File photo - A protester shows a figurine of a foetus during an anti-abortion march.

 

Los Angeles - A Republican state lawmaker in New Mexico has proposed a bill outlawing abortion in cases of rape, arguing that to conduct a termination would amount to “tampering with evidence” of a crime.

The draft legislation proposed by Cathrynn Brown would legally require victims of rape to carry their pregnancies to term so that the baby could be used as evidence during a sexual assault trial.

And a woman who terminated her pregnancy following an alleged rape would face being charged with a third-degree felony.

“Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion of a foetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime,” said the bill.

The woman could be jailed for up to three years if found guilty, according to the draft law, proposed on Wednesday.

Pat Davis of ProgressNow New Mexico, a non-profit group which opposes the bill, said it went against the aims of justice.

“In addition to being blatantly unconstitutional, the bill turns victims of rape and incest, who have just been through a horrible sexual assault, into felons and forces them to become incubators of evidence for the state.

“According to Republican philosophy, victims who are ‘legitimately raped' will now have to carry the foetus to term in order to prove their case,” he added.

Davis was referring to remarks by Missouri Republican Todd Akin, who sparked a furore last August when he said that “if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

That comment embarrassed Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney - as did a remark by Richard Mourdock of Indiana, who said “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape it is something that God intended to happen.”

Romney lost to President Barack Obama on November 6.

The New Mexico bill has little chance of becoming law because Democrats control both houses of the southwestern US state's legislature, but it will nevertheless have to be considered by elected representatives. - Sapa-AFP


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