Michigan Senate Passes Bill to Punish Anyone Who Coerces a Woman to Have an Abortion

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 25, 2016   |   6:03PM   |   Washington, DC

Two bills that would protect Michigan women from coerced abortions are on their way to the governor’s desk this week after the state Senate passed the measures on Wednesday.

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 the Right to Life of Michigan. The state House passed the bills in March.

“It’s been a decade in the making, and it’s time for Michigan to truly address the issue of women being coerced into having abortions,” the pro-life group said on its Facebook page after the vote.

The Detroit Free Press reports the bills passed the Senate in a mostly party-line vote on Wednesday. A spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder said he plans to review the bills before deciding whether to sign them.

Legislators said the bills will protect vulnerable women from coerced abortions, especially those who are victims of sex trafficking and abuse.

“Let’s send a strong message today to the pimps and the people out there human trafficking women that as they drag them across the parking lot they’re facing large fines and let’s consider sending them to prison, too,” state Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said prior to the vote.

Chris Gast, communications director for RTL of Michigan, told LifeNews that the bills will require abortion clinics to post a sign and have a screening process in place. He said it also will help pregnancy centers and counselors help women who may be being coerced to have an abortion.

“We know coerced abortions are happening in Michigan and these will hopefully provide important life-saving tools,” Gast said. “The abortion industry refuses to acknowledge abortion coercion is a serious problem despite studies showing its existence. They refuse to address this, so we will.”

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. Victims of sex trafficking also report that their abusers frequently force them to have abortions.

However, abortion activists openly opposed the common sense measure. Michigan Live reports more about the Wednesday vote:

Michigan branches of groups including the American Civil Liberty Union and Planned Parenthood oppose the legislation, saying it perpetuates a myth that women who seek abortions do so because they were coerced.

If the issue sounds familiar it’s because versions of it have volleyed around the capitol for years, even passing through some chambers but falling just short of making it to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.

On the Senate floor today, Democrats offered three amendments to the bill. They would have exempted the medical advice from doctors from counting as coercion, decreased the fines and made it a crime to coerce a woman into having a child as well. All failed along mostly partisan lines.

During a Senate committee debate earlier in May, ACLU representative Merissa Kovach contested the studies, claiming, “Scientific studies have shown that that number is much more closer to below three percent,” according to Michigan Live.

Sen. Jones responded 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.