by Steven Ertelt
September 10, 2006
Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — A Michigan state Senate committee will consider a measure this week that would help women avoid being pressured into having an abortion. The bill would require abortion practitioners to ask women considering an abortion if they have been coerced or intimidated into having it.
The measure also gives women an opportunity to file civil lawsuits in cases where undue pressure caused them to have an abortion. The screening must take place 24 hours before the abortion can be done.
The Senate Health Policy Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill on Wednesday.
The measure received a bipartisan 67-38 vote in the state House in July as Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the legislation.
Rep. Judy Emmons, a Republican who was one of the lead sponsors in the House, said the anti-coercion bills are needed to combat domestic violence that sometimes occurs when a husband or boyfriend doesn’t want his partner to have an abortion.
"It is not about abortion," she said, according to an AP report. "It is about domestic violence … all aspects of domestic violence and how it affects women."
Supporters of the measure points to stats showing as many as 40 percent of women say after the fact that they felt pressured by a boyfriend, husband, parent or family member to have the abortion.
But Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan, wrote an op-ed previously in the Detroit Free Press newspaper opposing making sure women aren’t lobbied into having abortions against their true desires.
She called the measure a "false campaign" designed to make it more difficult for women to get abortions and decried having women wait 24 hours before having an abortion if they have been pressured.
In her op-ed she claimed the bill was just part of an "agenda" by Right to Life of Michigan (RLM) and other pro-life groups seeking to limit abortions.
Pro-life advocates say those who oppose the forced abortion bill don’t understand the pressures some pregnant women face to have abortions.
“Over the years I’ve received anguished calls and letters from women who were pressured to have abortions," RLM president Barb Listing said.
“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 explained.
Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life of America, a national women’s group which assisted RLM with the legislation, agreed.
"There is nothing pro-choice about having no choice,” said FFLA president Serrin Foster. “Women deserve better than an unwanted abortions.”
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.