Coerced Abortion Bill Harms, Not Protects, Women


Flowers are blooming, the temperature is rising and Missouri lawmakers are trying to work another anti-choice bill through the legislature.

It must be spring!

The Missouri House has approved House Bill 1831, which "changes the laws regarding the consent requirements for obtaining an abortion and creates the crime of coercing an abortion." As a Missouri native my initial reaction was to ask what this bill was in response to. I haven't noticed a flood of news stories about coerced abortions here and pro-choice is the antithesis of coercion. But, true to form, this bill is not in response to a rash of complaints by women who have been coerced into an abortion. Rather, House Bill 1831 (Senate Bill 1058) is about devaluing the intelligence of women and questioning our ability to make decisions about our medical care.

In the mythical Missouri represented in House Bill 1831, women are fragile gullible creatures that need to be protected from manipulative forces that seek for us to have an abortion we don't really want to have. Under the provisions of the bill a man who asks his partner to have an abortion is guilty of coercion even if his partner was not actually pregnant and never actually had an abortion. A business would be guilty of coercion simply for threatening to reduce a pregnant employees pay and/or cut that employee's benefits. Oh but wait, it gets better! A business would also be guilty of coercion for threatening to terminate the employment of a pregnant employee.

Under House Bill 1831 schools would risk prosecution for coercion simply by threatening to revoke a pregnant woman's scholarship. Terminating a pregnancy resulting from rape would be considered coercion and physicians would face a felony charge for performing that abortion.

Pamela L. Sumners, Esq., Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, points out that the House Bill 1831 recently approved by the Missouri House was much better than what was originally proposed.

"Believe it or not, this bill is so much better than it was when first it was introduced. It made leaving or even attempting to leave one's pregnant wife because she did not want to have an abortion a crime, ditto with threatening twice (but not just once!) to move out under these circumstances, or calling a lawyer about separation papers under these circumstances, or telling her you don't want to be a daddy so she better hit the road if she doesn't have an abortion."

Sumners added that NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, Planned Parenthood, and domestic violence lobbyists worked very hard to strip the most constitutionally objectionable provisions from the bill.

"I want everyone to know how hard we work to keep the most utterly egregious provisions out of legislation. We still despise the glorious instrument you see today, of course. We do not like the premise of creating a crime of 'coercing' an abortion, although we at NARAL, like any other people of good taste and right reason, abhor the notion of coercion. We simply think that battery, assault, and stalking laws would adequately address any legally actionable "coercion" in this context."

House Bill 1831 (Senate Bill 1058) remains horribly flawed. The bill imposes personal investigative requirements on doctors requiring that they ascertain whether a patient seeking abortion services has an athletic scholarship that may be revoked or if she has been told her job will be negatively impacted if she is pregnant. A physician who fails to meet these investigative requirements will have committed a Class C felony.

What I find most alarming about House Bill 1831 is the creation of the crime of coercion. I can not imagine how this law would be enforced or how the legal system would determine that the law had been violated beyond a reasonable doubt. Add in the potential of false accusations and this mess just gets messier.

The Missouri Senate will soon take their version, Senate Bill 1058, under consideration. Given all that is wrong with this legislation, Missouri Senators should take this opportunity to lead by example and put an end to this insulting and unconstitutional nonsense.

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  • invalid-0

    is its one-sideness. It purports to protect women from being coerced into an abortion, but not women who might be coerced into going to term with an unwanted pregnancy. As the supporters of this bill aren’t intersted in the latter, it is obvious their concern for women is bogus.

  • invalid-0

    Many young women are coerced into abortions. I personally know of a young woman who was forced to have an abortion by her parents. For all the talk about “pro-choice” most women who have an abortion are in a state of panic, and go through with this painful and devastating experience because they feel that there is no other choice. But this is not true. There is support and options for women to let their child live and have a peaceful and supportive pregancy. However, organizations like Planned Parenthood use propaganda to deceive people into thinking that there is no hope, and that these options such as preganncy help centers will not help. Groups like Planned Parenthood do this in order to increase their profits.
    This is about human life. We already know for a fact that there is human life in the womb. What women need is support and compassion, and women are the victims of the abortion industry, and so are the women’s groups. If we truly care for women, we will not allow them to be manipulated and violated by the abortion industry. WE will give them hope and support for the child in the womb. What is the result? A new, beautiful child is protected and is born, and graces the world with their presence. Every child, every person was alive in the womb. Help a women and her unborn child, and you have saved a child’s life.

    God help you.

  • mellankelly1

    most women who have an abortion are in a state of panic, and go through with this painful and devastating experience because they feel that there is no other choice.

    Please do site your sources for this information.

    However, organizations like Planned Parenthood use propaganda to deceive people into thinking that there is no hope, and that these options such as pregnancy help centers will not help.  

    Which propaganda is that?  Is it that CPC’s lie to and manipulate women?  Planned Parenthood is telling the truth about these places… I can see how that would disturb those who are virulently anti-abortion.

     and women are the victims of the abortion industry, and so are the women’s groups.

    Yes, we’re so weak and simple minded, we simply cannot be trusted to make our own informed decisions… we are victims, how could we be anything else?  We certainly need others (preferably religious men) to make our decisions for us.

    Every child, every person was alive in the womb

    The most telling thing about that statement is that it isn’t true both ways.  Even if you take abortion out of the equation, every fertilized egg does not become a person… what does that make your God?

  • invalid-0

    “A business would be guilty of coercion simply for threatening to reduce a pregnant employees pay and/or cut that employee’s benefits. Oh but wait, it gets better! A business would also be guilty of coercion for threatening to terminate the employment of a pregnant employee…
    …Under House Bill 1831 schools would risk prosecution for coercion simply by threatening to revoke a pregnant woman’s scholarship.”

    What feminist stands behind discrimination of women in the workplace for “simply threatening to reduce a pregnant employee’s pay”?

    The idea of this legislation is abhorrent to me, as well, as it supposes that women cannot make this important decision themselves and are helpless victims to “abortion advocates.” It is a blatant anti-choice move. However, it seems that we SHOULD be defending women against pregnancy discrimination by employers and universities, or whomever else, so that a woman can make a FREE choice to terminate or continue a pregnancy. Women should be free from these coercions not to prevent abortion, but to prevent unfair discrimination. I think that sometimes in our rush to protect the right to abortion, we forget to really protect choice and freedom. It isn’t always just about abortion. This is an unnecessary piece of legislation because it will be used against women who choose abortion. It disappoints me that these anti-discriminatory laws are only being considered when they can be twisted to prevent a woman’s right to choose. But let’s not trivialize institutions that “simply” discriminate against fertile women. It gives the anti-choice crowd a good argument against us.