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Gov. Martinez Forced to Remove “Forcible”

Gov. Martinez Forced to Remove “Forcible”

Gov. Susana Martinez had the Children, Youth and Families Department pull the word “forcible” from the amendment we covered here yesterday which changes state policy to exempt rape victims from filing for child support claims before they can receive state assistance. 

The idea is single mothers whose children were conceived through rape should not be forced to contact their rapist. 

Good move by the governor, though one has to wonder whether she would have let this amendment stand had it not generated national news. As reported by the Huffington Post, Martinez made an executive proclamation earlier this year, for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which included the line “fifteen percent of New Mexican adults have been forcibly raped at least once in their lifetime….”

So she has already made the unnecessary distinction that infuriates so many people who don’t think rape should be quantified. 

Whether Martinez holds tight to hard-core Republican ideology remains an open question, but New Mexico isn’t a good place for the far-right to wage its culture war against women. The news today that Mitt Romney is pulling his campaign from this state is an indication of how unlikely this is to become a place where something like mandatory vaginal probes for women seeking an abortion would be pursued by the governor (see: Bob McDonnell in Virginia). 

Martinez is still not a strong advocate for women. She line-item vetoed funding appropriated by the legislature this year for women’s health, and her “top advisor” and campaign fundraiser, Jay McCleskey, has been charged by police with battery against a woman.  

When her chief of staff Keith Gardner was caught on tape admitting he never used his state email because he doesn’t want to go to jail, Martinez defended him by saying “He was a father, sitting down with a friend, talking about the sexual assault of two relatives.” 

This was a callous rewriting of facts. The man who made the recording was incensed enough that he released a statement including “Mr. Gardner’s relative was not a victim in the case, only my daughter….” That he had to specify this at all is telling, and Martinez has never clarified what she meant. 

So kudos for removing the “forcible” from this CYFD amendment, but Martinez’s record as governor indicates this regard for women and assault victims is the exception, not the rule.

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