Coercive Abortion Prevention Act (CAPA)
H.B. 4598, H.B. 4599 – Rep. Amanda Price
H.B. 4598-4599 were introduced on April 18, 2013, and referred to the House Criminal Justice Committee. Action on the bills is not expected until the fall of 2014.
Research confirms that a substantial number of women feel forced by boyfriends, spouses, parents and others to have an abortion against their will. Women are coerced through threats of physical violence, withdrawal of financial support, loss of housing such as being kicked out, and violation of employment contracts or other legal agreements. Furthermore, numerous studies have confirmed that women presenting for abortion are substantially more likely to be suffering domestic violence.
H.B. 4598 adds to Michigan's current anti-extortion/coercion provisions by including coercion to abort as a specific crime. It will be illegal coerce a woman to abort by threatening or actually committing the following actions: physical assault, withdrawing financial support, or terminating or otherwise violating a legal contract such as an apartment lease, university athletic scholarship, or employment contract.
H.B. 4599 establishes penalties commensurate with the seriousness of the prohibited action. Physical assault and stalking carry more severe penalties, while withdrawal of financial support or violation of a legal contract will be punishable by stiff fines.
H.B. 5134 and 5182 will require that abortion clinics screen for coercion and domestic violence, and then provide appropriate referrals to facilitate an escape from the abusive situation. All abortion clinics also must post a sign informing women that coercion to abort is a crime. The Department of Health must include a section regarding coercion to abort in the informed consent materials that women are required to read before having an abortion, and include a domestic violence hotline number.
As many as 64% of women who have abortions report feeling pressured. This pressure often rises to the level of coercion, as housing, university athletic scholarships, and other financial support are used as leverage to force women to abort. Further studies reveal that in an alarming number of cases, coercion escalates into physical violence and even murder. In fact, homicide is the leading cause of death among pregnant women. These bills will give women the legal backing they need when being coerced to abort, and help prevent the tragedy of physical assault and murder of pregnant women.
Prior versions of CAPA have been introduced the last four sessions. For a detailed review of action on the CAPA package, which came very close to passage in 2012, see the 2011-2012 legislative archirve here. In the 2005-06 session, the legislation passed the House but died in the Senate. In the 2007-08 and 2009-10 sessions, the bills died in committee. The language of H.B. 5134 and 5182 was ultimately incorporated into the Prolife Bus bill (H.B. 5711 of 2012) and became law in March 2013.