by Steven Ertelt
March 16, 2006
Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — Lawmakers in the Michigan legislature have introduced new legislation that seeks to help women avoid being pressured into having an abortion. The bill, which enjoys the support of pro-life groups, would require abortion practitioners to ask women considering an abortion if they have been coerced.
The measures were introduced by women legislators who say tougher laws are needed to protect women from pressure to have an abortion.
According to research from the Illinois-based Elliot Institute, which studies the effect of abortions on women, as many as 40 percent of women who have abortions say they have been pressured into having an abortion from parents, a boyfriend or others.
Those who tell an abortion practitioner they are being pressured would have an additional 24 hours to reflect on whether they truly want the abortion.
"We want to ensure a woman who chooses to have a child can do so without being threatened or intimidated," Sen. Michelle McManus, a Republican who filed the bill, told the Associated Press.
Right to Life of Michigan worked with the lawmakers to create the measure and strongly supports the bill.
“Over the years I’ve received anguished calls and letters from women who were pressured to have abortions," RLM president Barb Listing said.
"Now there is hard evidence supporting this coercion. Studies have shown that the number one cause of death among pregnant women is homicide," Listing added. “Most often the child’s father has failed in pressuring the mother to abort, so he turns to violence."
The measure also has the support of Feminists for Life of America, a national women’s group.
"There is nothing pro-choice about having no choice,” said FFLA president Serrin Foster. “Women deserve better than an unwanted abortions.”
Academic studies from the United States and Canada show many women seeking abortions have previously or are presently threatened by physical or sexual abuse. The pressure to abort comes in many forms, including parents threatening their minor daughters with grave consequences if they do not abort.
Sarah Scranton, director of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Michigan, told AP her group opposed the bill and said it was just another "barrier" to legal abortions.
"It seems to me this is just erecting more barriers to a woman’s right to choose an abortion," she said.
It would be illegal to coerce a woman to have an abortion and anyone who is pressured can file a civil lawsuit against the person causing the coercion.
The five-bill package identifies very specific types of coercion from physical violence to financial blackmail. The bills will require abortion providers to expressly screen for these types of coercion and refer women who are under such threats to either a domestic violence shelter or local law enforcement.
“Everyone agrees that no woman should be pressured to have an abortion. If we are all committed to truly protecting women’s rights and reducing abortions, then this initiative should be broadly supported by people on both sides of the abortion issue,” Listing concluded.