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Coercive Abortion Prevention Act (CAPA)

H.B. 4652  Rep. Judy Emmons
H.B. 4653  Rep. Paul Opsommer
H.B. 4654 Rep. Arlan Meekhof
H.B. 4655, 4656 Rep. Dave Agema

Current Status
H.B. 4652-56 were discharged from the Committee on Judiciary on May 1, 2008.

Description
H.B. 4653 Coercive Abortion Prevention Act amends the penal code to define specific actions as criminal if they are intended to coerce a pregnant woman into seeking an abortion. The penalty would be doubled for acts that are already physical crimes (assault, stalking, attempted murder). A misdemeanor charge for actions that do not physically threaten a woman, but clearly constitute a coercive element (relationship, financial or housing arrangements) would subject the perpetrator to fines up to $2000. These threats must be part of a pattern of repeated, harassing behavior, not a single statement or angry remark. If the pregnant woman is under the age of 18 and the perpetrator of the coercion is the adult father of the unborn child, the punishment would be imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $5000, or both.

H.B. 4654 Sentencing Guidelines provides direction to the courts regarding the length of sentence given to someone convicted under the law.

H.B. 4652 Civil Action for violating CAPA allows for a lawsuit to be brought by a victim of coercive actions. The convicted perpetrator would be liable for damages and costs.

H.B. 4655,4656 provides the Screening Process for Coercion within the Informed Consent for Abortion law. These bills amend existing law by requiring abortionists to take certain steps to screen each woman for possible coercion. The woman is screened for physical abuse, stalking, filing or threat to file for divorce, withdrawal or threat to withdraw financial support, change or threaten to change an existing housing arrangement, terminate or change in conditions of employment. If she self identifies as a victim of coercion, the abortion provider must offer nationally-recommended intervention options, including a referral to either law enforcement or a domestic violence shelter. If a pregnant girl is under the age of 18 and identifies herself as a victim of coercion, the abortion provider must contact a county child protective services agency. If the patient returns to the clinic after the protocols in the statute are met, the abortionist must have the pregnant woman sign the consent form saying the abortion is her free and uncoerced decision, before performing the abortion.

Background
After decades of legalized abortion, much research has been compiled documenting that many women feel forced by others to have an abortion against their will. The intent of this package of bills is to prevent coercion from escalating into physical violence or even murder, which is the leading cause of death among pregnant women. These bills will give women the backing they need to say, to their boyfriends, husbands or parents, or someone else in authority, “You can’t force me it’s against the law, and I can sue you.”

Studies reveal that there is a correlation between domestic violence and abortion patients, and conclude that "universal screening for domestic violence by all abortion providers is recommended". Studies show that those women who have a history of sexual or physical abuse also have a higher rate of repeat abortions. The repeat abortion rate in Michigan was 49% in 2005. Routine screening for abuse or coercion will protect women and could reduce the number of abortions.

History
This five bill package was introduced in the House on 4/24/07 and referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.

The CAPA bills previously called H.B. 5879 - 5883 were introduced in the House on 3/16/06 and identical versions in the Senate on 3/2l /06. Testimony on the House bills were heard before the House Judiciary Committee on 5/10/06. The bills were reported out of committee with substitutes recommended by the bill sponsors on 5/24/06. The substitutes were strengthened and passed in the House on 7/26/06.The vote follows: H.B. 5879 67-38, H.B. 5880 67-38, H.B. 5881 66-36, H.B. 5882 67-38, H.B. 5883 68-37. The bills died in the Senate.

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