The Michigan House of Representatives approved a package of bills designed to prevent women from being coerced to have an abortion against their will. Passing with strong, bi-partisan votes of 72-37, the 5-bill package represents the most comprehensive abortion anti-coercion policy in the country.
Right to Life of Michigan applauds the passage of legislation and says it will help prevent women from being pressured into having an abortion by a family member, spouse or partner or employer.
The lead bill in the package, the Coercive Abortion Prevention Act (HB 4799), creates criminal penalties for actions or threats of violence, financial pressure, withdrawing housing support or employment discrimination. Other bills in the package require that abortion clinics screen for coercion and domestic violence, and then provide appropriate referrals to facilitate an escape from the abusive situation. All abortion clinics also must post a sign informing women of their rights under this law.
Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing thanked legislators for their leadership in protecting vulnerable women.
“We are grateful House representatives have stepped forward to offer women support and legal backing against this terrible form of coercion. No woman deserves to be forced into aborting her unborn child,” Listing said.
As many as 64 percent of women who have abortions report feeling pressured. This pressure often rises to the level of coercion, as housing, university athletic scholarships, and other financial support are used as leverage to force women to have abortions. Further studies reveal that in an alarming number of cases, coercion escalates into physical violence.
House approval of the bills caps 6 years of work to enact this protection for pregnant women and a favorable reception of the bills is expected in the Michigan Senate.
The Wisconsin legislature is working towards similar legislation.