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Cathyrnn Brown: Dumb as a door-stop or one nasty pro-life fascist?

Pro-lifer fascist, Cathyrnn Brown

Could any lawmaker -- even a pro-lifer -- be so cruel and barbarous to even consider passing a law that forces the victim of rape/incest to carry the fetus to term?  Tighten down your seat belt because this post is going to be one rough ride.

When I first saw this story I thought surely here is yet another example of blatant lies propagated by the left-wing-nut BlogsSphere in order to advance partisan positions. Laura Bassett at HuffPo and Katie McDonough at Salon were all over this story about a New Mexico bill forcing  raped women to carry the baby to term, and I thought surely they are not reading the bill correctly.  But having looked into the details I can see that Laura and Katie are absolutely right to be going ballistic.  The bottom line is that it looks like this Cathrynn Brown anti-abortion wench is trying to pull a fast one in New Mexico.

The story starts with Section 30-22-5, paragraph A of the New Mexico state code, which makes tampering with evidence a crime. Paragraph A defines tampering with evidence as:

A. Tampering with evidence consists of destroying, changing, hiding, placing or fabricating any physical evidence with intent to prevent the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of any person or to throw suspicion of the commission of a crime upon another. [Source ]

OK, that’s not a complicated piece of law. But note the qualifier at the end – there must be an intent to prevent apprehension etc. of the perp or to throw suspicion upon an innocent person. That’s important. Destroying evidence with out having this specific intent is not illegal, otherwise some innocent kid who picks up a .223 casing on the school playground and throws it away could be busted for tampering with evidence.

Then comes Cathrynn Brown, who is a Republican member of the New Mexico House of Representatives and board member of the lifer group Right to Life of Carlsbad. Brown claims that she wanted to amend the tampering with evidence law so that it includes a man who by rape or incest impregnates a woman and then threatens or coerces her to get an abortion in order to destroy evidence of the crime. Certainly this sort of thing must happen all the time, particularly in incest cases, and so this is a laudable and worthy goal. But that is not Brown’s whole objective, or if it is she is too stupid to be in any legislature.

For in order to achieve the foregoing goal, all that would be needed is to amend the law by adding the following paragraph:

A.1. The term "physical evidence" of Paragraph A shall include a fetus that is produced from rape or incest, except that a woman who aborts such a fetus under duress, coercion, or fear shall not be guilty of violating this statute.

Bingo. You have it. With this amendment, anyone involved in aborting a fetus in order to hide a crime is guilty of tampering with evidence. Actually, my guess would be that even as it now stands, a fetus would be considered "physical evidence," and the existing laws on coercion and duress would cover the woman who is forced into an abortion.  So there is no need for any such expansion of the law.  Now this Cathrynn Brown is almost certainly a smarter lawyer than I am, and she knows this as well as I do. So, what is Brown is trying to pull here?

Brown’s bill does not amend Paragraph A, and does not amend the definition of "physical evidence" of Paragraph A. What Brown’s bill does is add Paragraph B, and Paragraph B sets out a completely new type of tampering with evidence which has nothing to do with Paragraph A, and – most importantly – deletes the intent clause of Paragraph A.  Here's Brown's Paragraph B:

B. 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. [Source ]

Pursuant to Brown’s Paragraph B tampering, in the case of rape/incest it becomes a crime to procure an abortion, or facilitate an abortion, or compel/coerce someone to obtain an abortion if: 1) the intent is to destroy evidence of a crime, and 2) the fetus was produced by rape or incest.

Notice how the intent has been modified. In the original tampering law, intent is with respect to the motive of the crime – but that intent is gone from Brown's tampering. The criminal intent under Paragraph B is not the intent to prevent conviction of the criminal or to put someone else in jail. Under Brown’s proposed version, the intent has to do with actually destroying the fetus, not why.  As long as you intend to destroy the fetus, for whatever reason, you are guilty. Of course, there are many reasons a woman in such a situation would want an abortion, and most of them have nothing to do with concealing the crime. 

Let’s look more closely at Brown’s phrase "with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime."

Because of the shift in intent, under Brown’s amendment, any girl or woman who aborts a rape/incest fetus for any reason – whether or not that reason has anything to do with covering up the crime – that girl or woman would be guilty of tampering with the evidence. 

Furthermore, from both a legal and a biological point of view, an abortion does not "destroy the evidence."  A fetus, once aborted, would still be evidence of the crime. All that is needed is to take a DNA sample and some photographs.  Preserve it in formaldehyde, if necessary.  It is nonsense to equate abortion with destruction of evidence. 

What Brown is trying to do is devious.  She is trying to concoct a new tampering law that makes a raped girl or woman more vulnerable to prosecution than those who violate the existing tampering law because the new law has no requirement that the intent be to cover up a crime or get an innocent person convicted. The sole criminal intent under Brown’s law would be the intent to have an abortion . . . for any reason.  

Forgive me for saying it this way, but judging from her bill, this Cathyrnn Brown is either as dumb as a door-stop or one nasty and devious pro-life fascist.  As would be expected of a facist, she is pushing to repeal New Mexico's law that allows cancer patients to access medical marijuana.  Yep, that's the Republican agenda -- war on women, war on those needing medical care.  Who would support such a ghoul?

Well, Karen Westall, for one.  She is Brown's biggest cash cow at $5000 for the last election It's sometimes kind of hard to run down these names on the Internet, but if this is the same Karen Westall who was the lawyer managing BP's Gulf Spill spin, then she surely has $5000 to throw around.  That seems to jibe with this 2006 listing of New Mexico political contributors, which shows a Karen Westall with a Carlsbad zip code as being an "oil producer."  And there is a Karen Westall on the Carlsbad City Council Planning and Zoning Commission. At one time Karen Westall was associated with Westall Oil and Gas Co. Inc., a Louisana oil company who's president is Ray Westall, who also has a New Mexico zip  and, coincidently, the same zip as Karen, which is in Brown's ward.  

Small world, eh?  BP spin-lawyers supporting pro-life fascists. 









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