Michigan Senate lawmakers approved two bills on Tuesday that would impose harsh penalties on anyone who coerces a woman to have an abortion.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bills in a party-line 3-1 vote, sending them to the full state Senate for consideration, according to Michigan Live. The state House passed the bills in March.
Michigan House Bill 4787 would add to the state’s current anti-extortion/coercion provisions by making coercion to abort a specific crime, and House Bill 4830 would make violations punishable with stiff fines, according to Michigan Right to Life. The legislation would make it illegal to “coerce a woman to abort by threatening or actually committing the following actions: physical assault, withdrawing financial support, or terminating or otherwise violating a legal contract, destroying or concealing a passport or other identification, and threats to deport or arrest,” the pro-life group said on its website.
“This kind of crime happens all the time,” Genevieve Marnon, a spokeswoman for Michigan Right to Life, told the Detroit Free Press. “This will give women a tool to fight back against this so it doesn’t escalate to murder.”
Despite claiming to support a woman’s “right to choose,” local news reports indicate a number of Michigan Democrats voted against the bills. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU also claimed the bills were an unnecessary effort to appease pro-lifers.
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“This only panders to extreme causes. There are already laws on the books that address coercion,” Amanda West, of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, told the newspaper. “This should address all reproductive coercion … like forcing a partner to become pregnant by doing things like poking holes in condoms or flushing birth control pills down the toilet.”
Studies show that coerced abortions are frequent with about half of women saying they felt coerced to abort, but these studies are often ignored by the abortion industry and its advocates.
“Scientific studies have shown that that number is much more closer to below three percent,” ACLU representative Merissa Kovach said, according to Michigan Live.
State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, countered that protecting even 3 percent of women from coercion still is important.
“If 3 percent of abortions in Michigan are coerced, that needs to stop,” Jones said.
Michigan Right to Life, which supports the bill, reported that one study found 64 percent of women who had abortions said they were coerced by a partner or parent.
The Coercive Abortion Prevention Act “is commonsense legislation that will help protect a woman from being coerced into an abortion against her will. Evidence and testimony shows abortion coercion happens frequently to women facing crisis pregnancies,” the group said.
“These bills will give women the legal backing they need when being coerced to abort, and help prevent the tragedy of physical assault and murder of pregnant women,” it continued.
In the past several months, LifeNews has reported several cases of women whose partners physically abused them because they refused to have an abortion. In several cases, the coercion and violence resulted in their unborn baby’s death.