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Bill banning abortion coercion moves forward in state House

State capitol
Lester Graham
/
Michigan Radio
The Michigan Legislature will close Wednesday

Bills that would create criminal penalties for coercing a woman to have an abortion have cleared a state House committee.

The panel sent House Bills 4787 and 4830 to the full state House on party-line votes.

Democrats say the bills do not clearly define what “coercion” means. They also offered an amendment to ban coercing a women to carry a pregnancy to term – which was voted down in committee.

“We’re not dealing with this in a balanced way, that it’s only affecting pregnant women who are coerced into having abortion, not the woman that’s coerced into carrying a pregnancy to term,” said state Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon).

Right to Life of Michigan – which has been pushing for the measure for more than a decade - says it could support separate legislation dealing with the issue of coerced pregnancies. But the group declined to support the Democrats’ amendment because it believes the issue must be dealt with separately and carefully, said Legislative Director Ed Rivet.

Rivet applauded the committee for moving the bills along.

“We really don’t expect there’ll be prosecutions and people put in jail very often by this law – probably almost never,” he said. “What we do expect is to empower women to be able to say, ‘What you’re doing, what you’re saying to me, how you’re threatening me is against the law.’”

Republicans on the committee say the legislation would be a tool prosecutors could use in cases of domestic violence.

A spokesperson for state House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) says the speaker has not decided when or if he’ll hold votes on the bills.

Here are links to the bills –

http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2015-HB-4787

http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2015-HB-4830