New Mexico Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R) made headlines this past week when she introduced a bill to charge women who become pregnant from rape with “tampering with evidence” if they choose to have an abortion. Brown has since clarified that House Bill 206 isn’t intended to target victims of sexual assault, and has worked to revise the language of the legislation — but although she wants to ensure rape survivors won’t be prosecuted for getting an abortion, she hasn’t extended the same protections for the doctors who perform those abortions.
As the Democratic Party of New Mexico pointed out in an official statement about HB 206, the revised bill still represents a dangerous step toward criminalizing abortion. “The bill still makes it a crime to ‘facilitate’ an abortion for a woman who wants one,” Scott Forrester, the director of the group, explained. “That means doctors, nurses, or anyone else who works at a health care clinic where this is one of the services provided would still be guilty of a felony.”
Targeting abortion providers is simply an indirect method of limiting women’s reproductive access, and it has been a successful tactic for anti-choice lawmakers across the country. Abortion opponents often subject abortion clinics and providers to burdensome regulations that aren’t placed on other medical professionals — and doctors who break those rules are typically faced with harsh consequences, like losing their medical licenses.
Brown isn’t the first GOP lawmaker to go as far as to suggest that doctors who perform abortions should be subject to criminal charges. But singling out the doctors who work in this field is having serious consequences. Partly due to the obstacles placed in front of the medical professionals who perform abortions, as well as rising levels of anti-abortion harassment, the country currently has a shortage of abortion doctors — particularly in states that are especially hostile to abortion rights, like New Mexico.
Should a recently introduced bill in New Mexico become law, rape victims will be required to carry their pregnancies to term during their sexual assault trials or face charges of “tampering with evidence.”
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.
Sexual assault trials are infamously grueling for survivors, who are often subjected to character assassination and other attempts to discredit their accounts. State Rep. Cathrynn Brown’s (R) bill would add the forced choice between prison or an unwanted pregnancy to these proceedings.
After several failed GOP candidates, including Todd Akin (R-MO) and Richard Mourdock (R-IN), made offensive comments about rape victims during the last election season, Republican consultants launched sensitivity training to teach candidates how to avoid talking about rape. But GOP policy speaks for itself. At the federal level, former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced a failed bill that would negate sexual assault that are not deemed “forcible rape.” And another New Mexico lawmaker, Gov. Susana Martinez (R), advanced a proposal to require women who become pregnant from rape to prove they were “forcibly raped” in order to qualify for childcare assistance.
In addition to burdening victims of sexual assault, Brown’s bill also reveals some hypocrisy in the anti-abortion community. While anti-choice advocates maintain that a fetus should be afforded the full rights of personhood, charging abortion as “tampering with evidence” effectively turns the fetus into an object. This isn’t the first time so-called pro-life supporters have dropped the fetal personhood crusade when it was convenient — last year, a Catholic hospital in Colorado reversed its stance on fetal personhood in a malpractice suit, arguing in court that the term “person” should only apply to individuals who have already been born.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) today announced that she will agree to expand Medicaid to extend coverage to additional low-income residents of her state, following a provision set forth in Obamacare.
Martinez is only the second Republican governor to join Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) and agree to the Medicaid expansion. Other Republican governors have refused to expand the program, essentially acknowledging that they would rather allow low-income people in their state to go uninsured than to follow the law of their Democratic president.
The AP estimates that the expansion will help cover roughly 170,000 people in New Mexico:
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez says New Mexico will follow provisions of a federal health care law to expand the state’s Medicaid program to potentially provide medical services to 170,000 low-income adults.[...]
Martinez made the announcement Wednesday during a speech in Albuquerque.
About a fourth of New Mexico’s population currently receives health care through Medicaid, but the program mostly covers uninsured children in low-income families along with the disabled and some extremely low-income adults.
The expansion in 2014 will make adults eligible with incomes of about $26,000 for a family of three or $15,400 for an individual.
New Mexico has among the highest rates of uninsured in the country. The Medicaid expansion seeks to remedy this problem by permitting those within 133 percent of the federal poverty line to join the program, helping aide those who earn too much to qualify, but not enough to afford coverage.
The state also moved to set up its health insurance exchange earlier this month.
New Mexico Attorney General To Investigate Voter Suppression |
New Mexico Attorney General Gary K. King (D) announced Tuesday that he will launch an investigation into efforts by a local Republican party committee to train “poll challengers” to suppress the vote. The non-profit ProgressNow New Mexico caught Pat Morlen, vice chair of the Sandoval County Republican Party, making several claims that directly contradict New Mexico law and instructing volunteer “poll challengers” to demand photo ID and force legal voters to use provisional ballots. “I will not tolerate voter suppression efforts by anyone, period,” King said in a statement, adding, “we have received a number of complaints since last Friday that there seems to be a concerted effort afoot to discourage some New Mexicans from exercising their right to vote this November. My office is committed to helping ensure fair elections by working to put an immediate stop to such misinformation and publicly correcting what has already been disseminated.”
DENVER, Colorado — Repeating the false claims from Mitt Romney about the track record of clean energy companies, Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) argued last Thursday that “most of those [wind and solar] companies are now bankrupt.”
The failure rate of green start-ups was a hot topic in last week’s presidential debate after Mitt Romney falsely claimed that half of green firms that had received funding from the stimulus had failed. His campaign later had to walk back that claim.
Speaking with ThinkProgress the day after the debate, Pearce went a step further. “Almost all of them, the wind and solar stuff,” are now bankrupt, the New Mexico congressman claimed.
PEARCE: I don’t think government should be involved [with PBS]. Otherwise they do like they did on the wind and solar. I think the most powerful turning moment of the debate was when he points out, “you want teachers but you gave $90 billion over to the green energies? What kind of a deal is that?” And most of those companies now are bankrupt. Almost all of them, the wind and solar stuff.
Listen to it:
Pearce’s claim is completely false. According to Mike Grunwald, who has written extensively on the stimulus bill, estimated that less than one percent of green firms had failed. The Environment & Energy Daily writes that “the entire program [loan guarantee program] will have a default rate of just over 3 percent and won’t even come close to using up the roughly $2.4 billion that Congress has set aside to cover losses associated with the program.”
DENVER, Colorado — A key western congressman declared late last week that Mitt Romney supports his push to “reverse this trend of public ownership of lands.”
In a speech to the Colorado Conservative Political Action Conference, Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) criticized Teddy Roosevelt’s “big ideas of big forests and big national parks,” which primarily exist in the West. Pearce told the audience that, if elected, Mitt Romney will help turn back public lands to the states or private entities.
PEARCE: America, each state, the public lands were given back to the states after they were chartered. But in the West, starting with Teddy Roosevelt who had the big ideas of big forests and big national parks, they held that land. And so the next chart shows you the effect on us in the West. Just understand this is the education. The red is of course bad. We’re starved in the West for education funds because of policies that Mitt Romney sat and listened to Rob Bishop and myself explain when it came to Hobbs. He knows that if we want to reverse the trend, we’ll reverse this trend of public ownership of lands starving education.
Though Romney’s campaign has asserted that they’re not targeting national parks for further drilling, Pearce disputed the notion that they should be off-limits. “Constitutionally,” Pearce told ThinkProgress after the speech, decisions about drilling in national parks and other public-owned lands “should be left with the states.” Indeed, drilling is already underway in a number of parks, with dozens more threatened.
Public lands are vital to the nation for many reasons. They allow anyone, not just the wealthy, access to beautiful natural areas. They provide clean air and water. They even help the United States adapt to climate change while boosting the economy.
For a primer on how the nation’s 700 million acres of public lands could be affected under a Romney presidency, click here.
As courts continue to block voter suppression efforts around the county, conservative groups are redoubling efforts to intimidate voters at the polls come Election Day.
New Mexico has started its own voter purge of 177,000 people, including a voting rights activist married to a state representative. However, as the law won’t go into effect until November 2014, the local Republican Party has apparently started training “poll challengers” for this election. A hidden camera caught Pat Morlen, the vice chair of the Sandoval County Republican Party, instructing volunteer “poll challengers” to demand photo ID and force legal voters to use provisional ballots. The video, filmed by the nonprofit ProgressNow New Mexico, shows vice-chair Morlen making several claims that directly contradict New Mexico law:
MORLEN: You can request to see a form of ID. At the request of two or more precinct board members of different political parties, a voter shall still present the required physical form of identification.
VOLUNTEER: What happens if we get people in there who are part of what the media is calling the purge?
MORLEN: They’ll vote provisional. That’s all that’s gonna happen.
In spite of these false instructions, New Mexicans who were flagged as “inactive” voters are still permitted to vote with regular ballots in November. The misinformation didn’t stop there. ProgressNow compiled an extensive list of the lies presented as election law, including claims that Spanish speakers are not permitted interpreters and that the police are involved in election monitoring:
CLAIM: “The police are supposed to be the ones who ensure that the election is legit.” FACT: Elections officials preside over elections, not the police. FACT: Police can be enlisted to ensure the orderly conduct of an election but officers who interfere with an election are guilty of a petty misdemeanor.
CLAIM: The trainer claims a person who changed their address but stayed within their same voting precinct should receive a provisional ballot. FACT: Anyone in this situation is given a regular ballot at the polls. (See 1 NMAC 10.3)
CLAIM: The trainer claims that interpreters are not provided to non-English speakers and then is unsure if polling places will provide Spanish-language ballots. FACT: Assistance for people in language minorities is provided, as are Spanish-language ballots.
Morlen also disparaged disabled New Mexicans, opining, “if the person can’t even say their name, at least their name, I don’t see why they should be voting.”
Obama has a narrow lead over Romney in the New Mexico polls, projecting a very close race. This particular training was filmed just two days after a study was released estimating 10 million Latinos could be disenfranchised by various voter suppression efforts. While Morlen’s statements are easily debunked, New Mexico voters are likely to be harassed and intimidated by these volunteer “voter challengers” armed with false information. But New Mexican voters aren’t the only targets; the national Tea Party group True the Vote has mobilized a large army of volunteers to go to the polls all over the country to harass voters. True the Vote tested out their voter intimidation skills during Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) recall election in June, when poll watchers blocked students and African Americans from voting.
After Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) asserted his belief that “legitimate rape” doesn’t often lead to pregnancy, Republican lawmakers were quick to attempt to configure his radical stance on women’s health as an outlier in their party. However, increasing numbers of GOP politicians’ language about the nature of sexual assault actually echoes Akin’s — including New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R), whose state’s policies use language that effectively narrows the definition of rape.
Not only did Martinez refer to “forcible rape” in an announcement instating April as New Mexico’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month — as if some kinds of sexual assault need to be qualified as more or less “legitimate” than others — but, as RH Reality Check reports, the term also appears in the state’s proposed changes to its official applications for childcare assistance. If the proposed changes take effect, women in New Mexico will be required to prove that their sexual assault qualified as “forcible rape” if they are seeking childcare assistance for a child that resulted from rape:
If adopted, this policy will have numerous implications. It establishes in state law a narrow definition of rape that can and will be applied in other areas of law and policy. It puts a heavy burden on women who have been raped and are now struggling economically to support a child or children to prove the manner in which they were raped and to meet a test set up by the state to exclude many women in need of childcare assistance who would otherwise qualify.
It would force women who have left violent domestic partnerships, who were date-raped, who were impregnated as a result of incest, or through other “non-forcible” but nonetheless equally violent and denigrating means of sexual violation to first re-engage with their abusers to seek child support, putting control of their lives back into the hands of someone by whom they were violated in the most profound sense of the term.
Martinez’s problematic move to narrow the definition of sexual assault is not unique to her state. Last year, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan partnered with Akin to co-sponsor a bill that introduced the concept of “forcible rape” in one of its earlier drafts. The “forcible rape” language was eventually removed from that bill after widespread public outcry, but that hasn’t stopped the concept from permeating the Republican Party.
Women’s health advocates in New Mexico are fighting back against the proposed changes to the childcare assistance applications. Strong Families, a coalition that works to advance the rights of women and immigrants, released a statement expressing their disappointment in Martinez’s “attempt to qualify differing levels of rape,” calling the move “especially egregious” in light of the fact that Martinez was a prominent speaker at last month’s Republican National Convention. A hearing on the issue is scheduled for October 1st.
RH Reality Check has received confirmation from New Mexico’s Children, Youth, and Families Department that Martinez has requested the removal of the “forcible rape” language from the state’s childcare assistance applications. A statement from department explained, “The Governor feels the language is redundant and unnecessary, and she does not support its usage.”
Former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) (Credit: Eric Draper/AP)
After losing in the primary in her first Senate bid in the 2008 election, former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) is now the Republican nominee against Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) for the open seat of retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D). Unlike Heinrich, a consistent supporter of LGBT equality and a backer of marriage equality, Wilson has opposed the LGBT community on several major issues.
Over her ten-plus years in the House of Representatives and her two Senate campaigns:
1. Wilson said she “tolerates” but doesn’t “approve of” homosexuality. Throughout her career, Wilson has repeatedly noted that though she tolerates LGBT people, she doesn’t much like having to do so. “With respect to homosexuality,” she told ABC News in 2006, “there are things I’m willing to tolerate that I’m not willing to approve of.” That disapproval was evident in her voting record: according to the Human Rights Campaign, she voted for LGBT equality just 5 percent of the time in the 110th Congress and zero percent of the time in the 107th, 108th, and 109th Congresses.
2. Wilson voted against Hate Crimes protections for LGBT Americans. In both 2000 and 2007, she voted against adding sexual orientation to the federal hate crimes laws. In 1998, in the wake of the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, Wilson argued that there was no need to add hate crimes protections for LGBT people because “it’s already law” — citing a 1994 provision that only covered crimes committed when the victim was engaged in already-protected federal activities like voting.
3. Wilson opposed anti-bullying laws, comparing anti-gay bullying to mere “teasing.” Earlier this year, she outlined her opposition to SB 555, the Student Non-Discrimination Act, explaining that “with respect to this particular agenda we have to recognize as parents that children tease each other.” Wilson mocked the bill — which would merely provide LGBT students with similar civil rights protections against bullying to those already granted to students bullied based on race and gender — dismissing it as “so broad it would actually punish children and say that it’s prohibited to express an opinion with respect to homosexuality in the schools.”
4. Wilson has consistently and vocally opposed marriage equality and civil unions. She frequentlynotes that “marriage is the union of a man and a woman as husband and wife” and repeatedlyvoted for a federal constitutional amendment to force that definition on states. In her 2012 campaign kickoff speech, she ironically claimed, “I trust people more than I trust government to make the best decisions for themselves and for their families,” while noting that marriage can only be between one man and one woman. Asked in 2006 whether she would support civil union-like rights for same sex-couples, she said she would not: “I think that’s marriage. And I think marriage is an institution that we should protect and nurture and it’s not, you know, it’s not between two women, two men, or between, between a group of people. It is a union between one man and one woman, and it’s something that we should honor in law, as well as in our communities.”
5. Wilson has not even practiced non-discrimination personally. In her first Congressional race, she said that she would not support “special rights” for LGBT people — code words for opposing equal treatment under the law. In addition to voting against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, she refused to even adopt a non-discrimination policy against LGBT discrimination for employees in her own Congressional office.
Watch Wilson explain why anti-gay bullying need not be punished:
On her campaign website, Wilson calls herself “an advocate for families.” Clearly, some restrictions apply. Her election to the U.S. Senate would be a huge threat to LGBT people and families.
Our guest blogger is Erik Stegman, Manager of the Half in Ten Campaign at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
An executive member of the Republican National Committee said that his home state of New Mexico is “going to hell” because an annual meeting between the governor and the state’s 22 American Indian tribes dishonored the memory of Gen. George Armstrong Custer, who is widely known for his bloody campaigns against Plains Indians in the late 1800’s. Mandated by New Mexican law, the governor meets on a yearly basis with cabinet officials and tribal government leaders to address issues of mutual concern.
After Governor Susana Martinez (R) announced the upcoming Tribal Leaders Summit, Pat Rogers, a partner with the Modrall law firm, lobbyist, and member of the RNC executive committee, decided to share a piece of his mind with the governor’s staff over email, which was originally publicized by Progress Now New Mexico:
Quislings, French surrender monkeys, secret supporters (all along) of JAJ [Janice Arnold Jones]
The state is going to hell. Col. Weh would not have dishonored Col Custer in this manner.
I hope who ever recommended this is required to read the entire redist [redistricting law suit] transcript and sit through the entire meeting with the Gov.
“Quislings” is another term for traitor, referring to politicians who favor the interest of other nations over their own. And who are JAJ and Weh? Rogers blasted this email off two days after the state primary when Republicans confirmed former State Rep. Janice Arnold Jones as their nominee for a congressional seat. Retired Marine Corps Col. Allen Weh ran against Martinez in the 2010 Republican primary election
“I call upon the Republican National Committee to remove Mr. Rogers from his official capacity within the committee,” All Indian Pueblo Council Chairman Chandler Sanchez said in a statement Sunday. “His statement that Custer is some kind of hero demanding deference is offensive.” The All Indian Pueblo Council represents New Mexico’s 20 sovereign pueblo governments. A spokesman for Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly said, “It’s definitely something that is just insensitive and careless to even remotely joke about that in this day and age.”
Rogers told the Albuquerque Journal that his email was a “poor attempt at humor and apologized, but made no direct apologies to any tribes in the state.”