by Steven Ertelt
March 19, 2006
Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — The Michigan legislature is considering a bill that would protect women from being pressured or coerced into having an abortion. If any kind of legislation has a chance of finding common ground in the abortion debate, that’s a bill that should.
However, Planned Parenthood opposes the measure because they say it treads upon their sacred abortion cow and could cause some women planning to fork over a few hundred dollars to have an abortion to reconsider their decision.
The measure simply asks abortion practitioners to inquire whether a woman considering an abortion has been forced or pressured into having it. Those women feeling such pressure would be given 24 hours to reflect on the abortion and possibly change their mind.
The bill is the first of its kind as the only one to target possible coercion women face.
Abortion is supposed to be a choice, advocates say, between a woman and an abortion practitioner.
However, abortion is more frequently a demand by a parent, husband or boyfriend. The Illinois-based Elliot Institute conducted a survey of women who had abortions and found that approximately 40 percent said they felt undue pressure to have the abortion.
Other studies have shown that violence against women rises when they become pregnant and a Maryland survey found that homicide was the number one cause of death for pregnant women. Attacks by husbands and boyfriends against pregnant women — such as the Laci Peterson case — are on the rise.
Under the bill, should a woman say she’s being coerced, abortion centers are required to direct her to places like domestic violence agencies to help with possible physical abuse.
Yet, Planned Parenthood objects to offering women that help.
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.
But, Feminists for Life of America is a pro-woman, pro-life organization that knows the pressures many women bear when they become pregnant. Michigan lawmakers wrote the bill with their help and it identifies specific forms of coercion from financial threats to physical violence, which could result in jail time and/or fines.
"We have heard from too many women and girls who had unwanted abortions due to threats of withholding financial and emotional support," FFLA president Serrin Foster said.
"Women and girls have repeatedly told us stories of being thrown out of their home by boyfriends, husbands and parents who said they would pay for an abortion, but if she has the child she’d be on her own; employers who found pregnancy and parenting incompatible with the job, educators who tell women they can’t possibly complete their education if they have a child," Foster explained.
"The worst cases have been those involving not only verbal threats to withhold financial support and emotional support, but those where physical violence has been used against pregnant women," she added.
FFLA was the only pro-life organization active in the task force that helped to pass the Violence Against Women Act and Foster testified as an expert witness during hearings on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, to help further prosecute those who target pregnant women.
Foster says her group hopes the Michigan bill, which also enjoys the support of Right to Life of Michigan, become a model for Congress and other state legislatures.
"There is nothing pro-choice about having no choice," Foster says.
Related web sites:
Feminists for Life of America – https://www.ffla.org