By JASMINE WATTS
Capital News Service
LANSING— A two-bill package that recently passed the Housewould make it a criminal act to coerce a woman into getting an abortion.
All of the bill sponsors are Republicans: Reps. Joel Johnson, R-Clare; Bruce Rendon, R-Lake City; Lee Chatfield, R-Levering; Larry Inman, R-Traverse City; and Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac are among the sponsorsl.
It now goes to the Senate.
One bill would make it illegal to coerce a pregnant woman to have an abortion against her will. And it would make it illegal to stop or threaten to stop any financial support, agreements under contract or employment after a pregnant woman has decided not to have an abortion.
The other bill says that a person who committed a stalking offense or assault to coerce a woman into getting an abortion would be guilty of a felony. The penalty for stopping financial or contractual support or employment would be a misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $10,000.
The attorney general, Right to Life of Michigan and Michigan Catholic Conference also support the bills.
According to Right to Life , 64 percent of women who have abortions feel pressured to have them.
“We’ve been working on this legislation at least a decade,” said Ed Rivet, the legislative director for Right to Life.
Rivet said his organization’s research showed that homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women and that violence is an escalating factor for women after they refuse abortion. Coercion to get an abortion is usually done by the father of the unborn child but also has proven to be parents of the mother, coaches and employers, he said.
Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization for Women for Women oppose the bills.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan offered written testimony in opposition to the bills, stating that they are redundant and disingenuous.
Michigan’s existing informed consent law already mandates that a woman’s consent to abortion must be given freely without coercion.
The group suggested that lawmakers focus on policies that address the broader issues of domestic violence and reproductive coercion.
Bobbie Walton state treasurer of the National Organization for Women, told the House Criminal Justice Committee that the existing law regarding abortion rights is sufficient and supporting the bills is a waste of time and legislative resources.
By JASMINE WATTS