So Michigan state lawmakers have decided they need to protect women by passing the “Abortion Coercion Protection Act.” This act includes various provisions to ensure that women aren’t forced into having an abortion when they would prefer to carry to term.
These provisions include things like fines for husbands who threaten a divorce unless their pregnant wife has an abortion or parents who threaten to withdraw financial support unless their daughter has an abortion. These fines range from $5000 to $10,000 depending on if the violator is the fetus’s father or if the pregnant person is a minor. On the surface these laws seem fairly innocuous, I mean no pro-choice person wants to see women forced into abortion any more than we want to see women forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.
The problem with these laws isn’t what they do, but what they fail to do. They do not offer women any protection for the opposite. A husband who doesn’t want his wife to have an abortion can threaten to leave her if she goes through with it and parents can threaten to kick their daughter out of her home if she decides not to carry to term. Women who want to have an abortion have just as much a right to not be coerced into a decision as women who want to continue their pregnancy.
Last week Michigan lawmakers added a new provision to this act by adding a requirement that all abortion providers must screen their patients for coercion by asking them a series of state mandated questions. If a doctor finds that a woman is being coerced into an abortion then the procedure must be rescheduled to no sooner than 24 hours later. Another provision is that if the patient is under 18 and discloses domestic violence or coercion to abort the doctor must report that to a local Child Protective Services office.
Again, it is hard to argue that there is anything wrong with this, but women going to an ob/gyn for prenatal care aren’t screened for coercion to give birth so rather than actually being about protecting women, laws like these are just about further stigmatizing abortion and making it just another step more difficult for women to obtain one.