September 30, 2016

New Death Penalty Bill includes public pregnancy examination for accused women, antiquated “retard” provisions

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Buried within House Bill 7, the Republican bill to reinstate New Mexico’s death penalty, are provisions requiring accused women to undergo forced public medical examinations “in the presence of the court” and includes antiquated provisions governing processes for “retarded” persons and the “insane.”

“Either the sponsors don’t know what is in this bill or they are so out-of-touch that they don’t understand the implications.  Either way these antiquated terms and barbaric assumptions show how extreme and political this entire death penalty proposal has become,” says Pat Davis of ProgressNow New Mexico.

Section 10 of HB7 adds “new material” from the bill writers governing the punishment of “mentally retarded” persons.

Section 14 governs the “insanity of the defendant.”

In 2010, President Obama signed S. 2781 into law removing “retardation” from federal law and recognizing these persons as having a mental disability.

Section 18 of HB7 requires judges to “inquire into the question” of pregnancy of female death row defendants by having three physicians conduct physical examinations of the woman, in open court before a judge and witnesses, if a woman is suspected of or raises the question of pregnancy.

 SECTION 18. A new section of Chapter 31 NMSA 1978 is enacted to read:

“[NEW MATERIAL] PROCEEDINGS WHEN FEMALE DEFENDANT MAY BE PREGNANT–DUTY OF DISTRICT ATTORNEY.–

If there is good reason to believe that a female defendant who was sentenced to death is pregnant, the warden shall call that fact to the attention of the district attorney of the county in which the state penitentiary is situated…

It shall be the duty of the district court to inquire into the question and render a judgment. The court may summon three disinterested physicians of good standing in their profession to inquire into the alleged pregnancy. The physicians shall, in the presence of the court, but with closed doors, if requested by the defendant, examine the defendant, hear any evidence that may be produced and make a written finding and certificate of their conclusion, to be approved by the court…”

 

Full bill: (Section 18, Page 17)

https://nmlegis.gov/Sessions/16%20Special/bills/house/HB0007.pdf

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“There are so many things wrong with this it’s hard to know where to start. But these bizarre components just show how little consideration has actually gone into this proposal, and how extreme it actually is,” Davis adds. 

“These provisions are bizarre, terrible, invasive, and inhumane and no woman should be forced to undergo these procedures against her will, and especially not before a judge, witnesses and a panel of doctors in a public courtroom ,” says Marya Jones of ProgressNow New Mexico.

The sponsors’ would require these procedures to be forced on convicted women and performed in open court, though she can ask for the courtroom door to be closed.

No matter what you think of the death penalty, we can all see that this bill just goes too far.

Call the House Republican leadership office and tell them that New Mexicans don’t need this bill.  

House Leadership, Republican Majority: (505) 986-4776

House Leadership, Democratic Minority: (505) 986-4757