Feminists Say "No Choice isn't Pro-Choice"
FFL Supports First Anti-Coercion Legislation in the Country
Feminists for Life supports the Coercive Abortion Prevention Act introduced
Thursday, March 16, 2006, by Michigan women legislators. The five-bill
package identifies very specific forms of coercion from financial threats
to physical violence, which could result in jail time and/or fines. Abortion
providers would be required to expressly screen women for coercion, inform
coerced women of their rights, and refer them to domestic violence agencies.
"There is nothing pro-choice about having no choice," said Feminists for Life
President Serrin Foster. "Women deserve better than unwanted abortions."
The legislation stands in stark contrast to a lawsuit—nicknamed "Roe v. Wade for Men"—filed on March 9 in U.S. District Court in Saginaw, Michigan. The suit, supported by the National Center for Men, contends that men should have the choice to "decline fatherhood," including financial responsibility, in the event of pregnancy. State courts have ruled in the past that any inequity experienced by men is outweighed by society's interest in ensuring that children get financial support from both parents.
"We have heard from too many women and girls who had unwanted abortions due to threats of withholding financial and emotional support," said Foster. "Women and girls have repeatedly told us stories of being thrown out of their home by boyfriends, husbands and parents who said they would pay for an abortion, but if she has the child she'd be on her own; employers who found pregnancy and parenting incompatible with the job, educators who tell women they can't possibly complete their education if they have a child."
"The worst cases have been those involving not only verbal threats to withhold
financial support and emotional support, but those where physical violence has
been used against pregnant women," said Foster.
Feminists for Life was the only pro-life organization active in the task force that helped to pass the Violence Against Women Act. In 2003 Foster testified as an expert witness before Congress in support of Laci and Connor's Law (named after Laci Peterson who was pregnant with Connor at the time they were murdered by her husband).
"We have been advocating this type of initiative for years, and we are excited to partner once again with Michigan Right to Life. This ground-breaking legislation will become another model for the country," Foster added. Right to Life of Michigan consulted with Feminists for Life as they developed this legislation, similar to the Michigan-FFL teamwork that led to state and national legislation to support pregnant and parenting student services.
In 2004 Michigan passed the first legislation in the country to support colleges
and universities that establish offices to aid pregnant and parenting students.
The legislation was inspired by Serrin Foster's keynote address to the bipartisan
Pro-Life Women Legislators Caucus, an event sponsored by Right to Life of Michigan
in October 1999. The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Act introduced by U.S. Senator Elizabeth
Dole and U.S. Representative Melissa Hart in 2005 was modeled after Michigan's
bill and enjoys bipartisan support.
Feminists for Life proudly continues the tradition of the early American feminists such as Susan B. Anthony who urged colleagues to address the root causes of abortion—including coercion. "In her radical feminist publication, Susan B. Anthony wrote that 'he who drove her to the desperation' of abortion was 'thrice guilty.' Anthony would most certainly have applauded the Coercive Abortion Prevention Act, too. Passing this bill is the best next step to keep Susan B. Anthony's legacy alive. What a great way to celebrate and make women's history month," Foster concluded.