Guest Author - Suzanne Gregory
Most of my readers know I am a staunch supporter against reproductive coercion. I am 100% pro choice, and that is my point exactly. For me that means pro choice in all reproductive choices. I myself was coerced, and have considered my efforts to stop coercion through my writing and support of other groups with the same goal, to be the most cathartic way of healing.
Other pro choice groups do not agree with me, and consider legislation against coercion to be another form of blocking a woman's right to abortion. While I see their point, and understand their concern, I stand with the groups who are against coercion, whether they be pro choice, pro life, or anywhere in between.
While my viewpoint may not be popular, it is my belief, and what I stand by. Here is more about the bill:
The coercive abortion prevention act otherwise known as CAPA, or H.B 5134 has been introduced in Michigan's House making abortion coercion a criminal act. The bill was originally introduced in June in the forms of H.B 4798 and H.B 4799. It has been pushed 3 times in the last 3 legislative sessions and failed to go forward each time.
The current form of the bill commissions a “physician or qualified person assisting the physician shall orally screen the patient for coercion to abort and domestic violence using the screening tools developed by the department.”
If a patient discloses coercion to abort, the physician must:
-Inform the patient that coercing a woman to have an abortion is illegal and grounds for a civil action under which “she may receive financial compensation for her damages.”
-Postpone the abortion for at least 24 hours after coercion has been disclosed.
-If a patient under 18 discloses domestic violence or coercion to abort, the physician must report the situation to a local Child Protective Services office.
-The facility providing abortions must conspicuously display information about violence against women.
The bill makes coercion to abort a crime punishable by potential imprisonment and fines up to $5,000, or $10,000 if the person accused of coercing the pregnant woman is the “putative father of the unborn child” and 18 or older, or if the pregnant woman is under 18.
Under this law, coercion to abort includes threatening to discontinue financial support, threatening divorce, assault or threats of physical violence.
While I can’t go back and change what happened to me, I can go forward in support of others it is happening to now and will happen to in the future. Because of my experiences, I have close friends who have also been in a coercive situation both to abort and to continue pregnancy. While this is only one bill for one type of coercion, it is a step in the right direction. We cannot expect all positive changes to come at once, or for there not to be comprises made in getting there.
Women have lost their lives as a result of being forced to continue a pregnancy and committed suicide as a result of being forced to abort. That is not my definition of choice.
~To those of you in either situation, all my love and support. Stand up for your rights. Make your choice, with your voice.