Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed two new bills into law Wednesday that will protect women from being coerced into aborting their unborn babies.
The new laws crack down on sex traffickers, abusive partners and others who often pressure women to have abortions. Michigan House Bill 4787 will add to the state’s current anti-extortion/coercion provisions by making coercion to abort a specific crime, and House Bill 4830 will make violations punishable with fines of up to $10,000, according to the Right to Life of Michigan. The bills passed the state Senate earlier this month and the state House in March.
Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing celebrated the news as a victory for women and their families in Michigan.
“This wonderful news marks the end of a decade-long journey to stop coerced abortions, an everyday occurrence in Michigan,” Listing said. “The abortion industry in Michigan has profited from thousands of women who never chose to have an abortion. It’s time for that to end.”
Abortion facilities in Michigan now will be required to screen women for coercion and post a notification that coercion to abort is illegal, according to the pro-life group.
Studies show that coerced abortions are frequent with about half of post-abortive women saying they felt pressured to have abortions. One study found 64 percent of women who had abortions said they were coerced by a partner or parent. Victims of sex trafficking also report that their abusers frequently force them to have abortions.
Listing said women often feel forced by their partners or parents to have an abortion against their will. Many face threats of physical violence, withdrawal of financial support, loss of housing, violation of employment contracts and more, she said.
However, abortion activists openly opposed the protective, common sense measures and tried to persuade Gov. Snyder to veto them.
Merissa Kovach, field organizer for the ACLU of Michigan, told Electablog that the legislation is “sloppy” and the penalties for coerced abortions are “excessive – $5,000 and $10,000, which is 10 to 20 times higher than the cap on misdemeanor fines in the state of Michigan.” Kovach implied that these penalties are too harsh for the crime and that coercing a woman to abort her unborn child should be treated like any other misdemeanor.
During a Senate committee debate earlier in May, Kovach contested the studies, claiming, “Scientific studies have shown that that number is much more closer to below 3 percent,” according to Michigan Live.
State Sen. Rick 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.
Listing said 3 percent would mean that there were 815 Michigan women who were coerced to abort their unborn babies against their will in 2015 alone.
“How can someone downplay coerced abortions while admitting that it happens to hundreds of women in Michigan every year?” she asked.
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.
Reports do not indicate when the new laws will go into effect.