Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently signed into law two bills that create penalties for anyone who unduly pressures a woman into aborting her pregnancy. The new law is complex and can create confusion. Michigan criminal defense attorney Maurice Davis can help you understand the legal issues surrounding this law. Contact him today at (313) 818-3238.
Michigan House Bill 4787 amends the state’s already existing laws against extortion and coercion by adding coercion to abort as a specific offense. House Bill 4830 lays out the penalties for committing this offense, which consists in a fine of up to $10,000. Under the new law, women who seek abortions will face screening to ensure that they are not being coerced.
Pro Life Groups Claim Coerced Abortion is Widespread in Michigan
One of the bills’ most ardent supporters, the Michigan Right to Life organization, applauds the new law on the grounds that it will protect women from coerced abortions—many of which may be sexual assault victims or sex workers.
Another supporter of the bill, State Senator Rick Jones, stated, “Let’s send a strong message today to the pimps and the people out there human trafficking women that as they drag them across the parking lot they’re facing large fines, and let’s consider sending them to prison too.”
Prolife groups and like-minded legislators rely on studies that show that more than half of women who get abortions report that they felt pressured into terminating their pregnancy. Other research suggests that a significant number of sex trafficking victims are coerced into having abortions.
Do these Laws Create Barriers for Women to Get Legitimate Abortions?
The new law’s detractors, which include the Michigan branch of the ACLU, claim that only around 3 percent of abortions are coerced. With such a small number of abortions being affected by coercion, they argue that the new laws do little more than add more obstacles for women who are seeking abortions for legitimate reasons.
On the Senate floor, democrats suggested amendments to the bills. Specifically, they sought to exclude medical advice from a doctor as being considered coercion, to decrease the fines, and to also make it a crime to coerce a woman into having a child. All three proposals failed, with votes being cast largely along partisan lines.
It remains to be seen whether the laws will have unintended policy consequences. For one, it may be difficult for prosecutors to prove beyond a doubt that coercion actually occurred. Case outcomes may depend on testimony that may be difficult to substantiate, which means that many innocent people may end up charged or convicted because of false accusations.
How a Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
At Davis Law Group, we are committed to defending the rights of Michiganders facing criminal charges. No matter the charge, we are determined to craft the best defense strategy possible under the circumstances. If you have been charged with a crime, call a Michigan criminal defense attorney today at (313) 818-3238 for a free and confidential consultation of your case.