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Coercive Abortion Prevention Act (CAPA)

H.B. 4798 – Rep. Bruce Rendon

H.B. 4799 – Rep. Paul Opsommer
H.B. 5134 – Rep. Nancy Jenkins

H.B. 5181 – Rep. Margaret O'Brien

H.B. 5182 – Rep. Margaret O'Brien

 

Current Status

Rep. Bruce Rendon sponsored the omnibus H.B. 5711 ("Prolife Bus") in May 2012, that incorporated the abortion coercion screening provisions found in H.B. 5134 and 5182. H.B. 5711 passed the House on June, 13. 2102. The Senate then acted on H.B. 5711, 4798, 4799 & 5181 on 12/6/16, with H.B. 4798, 4799, & 5181 passing by votes of 29-9, and H.B. 5711 passing 27-10. This sent the four bills back to the House for a final concurring vote.

After last-minute concerns were raised by Gov. Snyder about details in H.B. 4799, tie-bar amendments linking the coercion bills to the Prolife Bus, were broken by an amendment approved by the House on December 14, 2012. The House then gave final approval to only the Prolife Bus, leaving H.B. 4798, 4799 and 5181 to "die" at the close of the session. Because the coercion screening provisions in the Prolife Bus rely on the definition of coercion contained in H.B. 4799, that legislation must be reintroduced in the 2013-2014 session, and passed quickly so the coercion screening may go forward, when the Prolife Bus law takes effect on 3/12/13.

Earlier Legislative Action

H.B. 4798-99 were introduced on June 22, 2011, H.B. 5134 was introduced on October 27, 2011, and H.B. 5181-82 were introduced on November 29, 2011. THe House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors held a hearing for testimony only on December 6, 2011. RLM testified in favor of the bills, and three women shared powerful personal stories about witnessing coercion to abort or experiencing such coercion themselves. The ACLU testified in opposition.

On February 14, 2012, this five-bill package was voted out of the House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors. The votes on HB 4798, 4799 and 5181 were 6 votes in favor, 2 against, and 1 abstention. The votes on 5182 and 5134 were both 7-2. RLM and the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence spoke in support of the bills. The Michigan Catholic Conference and Michigan Family Forum also supported the bills but did not speak. The ACLU opposed the bills but did not speak.

The Michigan House of Representatives approved the package of bills on March 13, 2012 with strong, bi-partisan votes of 72-37. The legislation had been previously considered on the House floor on March 8, 2012, with a limited amount of debate coming from opposing legislators, with a series of hostile amendments being easily defeated. A record roll call of the votes on final passage can be found starting on page 3 of the House Journal linked here:  Michigan House Journal 3/13/12

 

The Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, and reported out the entire CAPA package on Tuesday, May 1, 2012, on votes of 3-0. There has been no specific time frame established for a vote by the full Senate, although action before the Legislature's summer recess, which begins in late June, is a good possibility.

Description
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. 4799 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. 4798 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.

H.B. 5181 gives a woman the right to bring a civil suit against any person who coerces her to abort.

Background

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.

History
Prior versions of CAPA have been introduced the last three sessions. 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.

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