Laws Needed to Protect Teens From Adults Forcing Abortions

National   |   William Saunders and Mary Novick   |   Feb 21, 2013   |   2:00PM   |   Washington, DC

A brave 16-year-old girl, who is 10-weeks pregnant, won a case in Texas Family Court recently, which protects her from being forced by her parents to get an abortion. Her name has not been revealed because she is a minor.

When this girl’s parents found out she was pregnant, they took measures to make her life miserable unless she agreed to have the abortion. They took away her phone and her car; they took her out of school; they forced her to get two jobs. The parents subjected the girl to verbal and physical threats; her mother even spoke of slipping her an abortion drug without her knowledge.

It is tragic to think that this girl’s parents—the very people that she should have been able to lean on during this trying time—are the same people that are trying to force her, against her will, to get an abortion. Thankfully, her parents were not successful, because she was tenacious and fought for the right to have her baby.

The girl got legal assistance from the Texas Center for Defense of Life. On Monday, the court granted an injunction against the parents, allowing the girl to use her car to go to school, work, and medical appointments, and requiring her parents to help cover her medical expenses (unless she gets married before the baby is born).

This tragic story had a happy ending, but it highlights the necessity for anti-coercion legislation in the states. While lawsuits between parents and children are uncommon, coercion against pregnant girls aimed at forcing them to get an abortion is not uncommon; indeed, pregnant girls are often subjected to coercion.

Currently, at least fifteen states have some form of coercive abuse prevention laws, with varying definitions and degrees of protection.[i] Texas is one of these states, as part of the Texas informed consent statute—a woman must certify that she has not been coerced into having an abortion.

However, there are still 35 states with no protection for girls or women who might be bullied into an abortion. That is why Americans United for Life has put together model legislation to combat forced abortion—the Coercive Abuse Against Mothers Protection Act.

AUL’s model legislation makes it illegal to force a woman to have an abortion. It allows women who are victims of forced abortion to sue for damages and for the wrongful death of the aborted child. It also requires that facilities that provide abortions post a sign and orally inform a pregnant girl (or woman) that no one can force her to have an abortion. It requires that abortion providers report every instance of alleged or suspected coercion to the authorities.

It is important to support women like this brave 16 year old girl in Texas, and other women who are being coerced into abortion, by passing tough anti-coercion legislation. No woman should be forced to undergo an abortion.



The Coercive Abuse Against Mothers Protection Act and other AUL model legislation is available for download on AUL’s website.

[i] AZ, DE, ID, LA, MN, MO, MT, NE, ND, OH, OK, SD, TX, UT, and WI.