Yep, it’s an election year.
To address what apparently is an epidemic of Michigan women being coerced to have abortions, a state House committee today has reported out a bill that would make such coercion a crime, Gongwer reported. Among other things, it would make stalking or assault a woman to convince her to have an abortion a crime.
Stalking and assault, of course, already are crimes.
This, of course, is an attempt by Republicans to play into the far-right paranoia that abortion providers, or doctors or counselors that discuss abortion as an option, are part of a baby-killer industry that preys upon unsuspecting naïve, pregnant women. It’s all part of an escalating attempt to demonize abortion providers; in recent months, Planned Parenthood has been vilified, even though only 3 percent of its resources are used toward abortions.
One might think that the Michigan legislation is so off-the-wall that it couldn’t possibly do any harm, even if it is passed. But, in my view, it could have a chilling effect on the kind of advice or counseling a medical professional might provide.
And it could create some legal problems for boyfriends or spouses of women who are considering an abortion. Let’s say a boyfriend raises his voice as he pleads with his girlfriend to proceed with an abortion. Is he coercing her? Or is he just having an emotional discussion (about a very emotional issue)?
Possibly, under this law, that boyfriend could wind up behind bars for voicing an opinion.
The House may take up the bill in coming weeks.