February 16, 2012 — The Michigan House Families, Children and Seniors Committee voted on Tuesday along party lines to advance legislation that would make it a crime to coerce a woman to have an abortion, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports.
The GOP-backed package of bills would make it illegal to coerce a woman into having an abortion against her will, either through assaults or threats to the woman herself or her employment.
According to supporters, the bills would establish a screening process at clinics to determine whether a woman is being forced to have an abortion. "A lot of times there is intimidation before the women even make it to the clinic," Edward Rivet, legislative director for Right to Life of Michigan, said.
Rep. Marilyn Lane (D), who declined to vote on the legislation, noted that a representative for the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police testified that such a law might be "redundant" and "unenforceable," the Kalamazoo Gazette reports.
Meanwhile, Rep. Maureen Stapleton (D) attempted to attach an amendment to the legislation that would add protections for women who are coerced to remain pregnant. She said, "We should be willing to protect women from all types of coercion," adding, "As it is now, these bills are examples of political and religious ideology" (Murray, Kalamazoo Gazette, 2/15).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.