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Michigan House passes bills to prevent abortion coercion

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On Thursday, the Michigan House voted 65-43 to pass two pro-life bills to protect women from being coerced into having abortions.

One would make it a felony to stalk or assault a pregnant woman for the purpose of pressuring her into an abortion, and the other would make it a misdemeanor to threaten to withhold legally-required financial aid or employment if she refuses to abort.

The South Bend Tribune reports:

A 2012 state law requires abortion clinics to screen patients for coercion, but lawmakers’ attempt at the time to criminalize coercive abortions was removed before Gov. Rick Snyder signed it.

Shelli Weisberg, the legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said there’s no evidence to suggest that women are frequently coerced into having abortions.

“This is just a constant fight between the people who want to end abortion altogether, and people who want to end abortion by doing the logical thing, by helping women get birth control,” she said.

Abortion defenders claim the legislation is unnecessary because general stalking and assault is already illegal, but Republican state Representative Amanda Price argues otherwise. She said on the House floor that over the past several years she has collected personal accounts of women pressured to abort by parents, bosses, college officials, and pimps. Past studies have concluded that up to 64 percent of abortions were coerced in some way.

“I don’t know about you, but I am long past my breaking point,” Price said of the testimonies, concluding they demanded action.

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The state Senate has passed other pro-life legislation in recent years, so these bills stand a good chance of passing after the legislature returns from its two-week in-district work period. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is pro-life.

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