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Abortion Bill

Assumes Male Guilt, Opens Door to Unfair Prosecutions

December 5, 2006

An Incredibly Bad Bill... Coercive Abortion Prevention Act Assumes Male Guilt, Opens Door to Unfair Prosecutions

Glenn SacksMy new co-authored column, Coercive Abortion Prevention Act Assumes Male Guilt, Opens Door to Unfair Prosecutions (Detroit News,11/30/06), discusses an incredible--and incredibly bad--new bill which was passed by the Michigan House of Representatives. We squared off against Suanne Thompson, legislative liaison for Right to Life of Michigan, whose counterpoint was Women need protection from undue pressure to have abortions.

I've made the point many times that our movement has advanced slowly in part because we face opposition from both sides of the political spectrum. While most of the anti-male prejudice in our society comes from the feminist left, the CAPA is an excellent example of the way conservatives also bash and blame men, and try to shift blame for society's ills onto us.

Family law attorney Jeff Leving and I wrote:

"Bob and Jane live together and, like many young couples, they sometimes argue. There never seems to be enough money, and while they both want to go to college, neither has yet been able to do so. Jane recently discovered that she is pregnant.

"Jane is ambivalent about the pregnancy, and her friends think she should terminate it -- she's too young, and Bob isn't very stable. Bob would like to be a father someday, but not now -- he can't pay their bills and wants a better career.

"One day Bob and Jane argue over some things Jane bought with their credit card, and Bob tells Jane he doesn't want to pay their bills anymore. He says he's tired of arguing with her, doesn't want her to have the baby, and wants to move out for a while and think things over.

"Under a bill recently passed by the Michigan House of Representatives, Bob could go to jail.

"House Bill 5882 creates the Coercive Abortion Prevention Act. Its purpose is to prohibit the putative father of a pregnant woman's child from coercing or intimidating the woman into terminating her pregnancy. While preventing violence or threats of violence against pregnant women is an admirable goal, the proposal goes way beyond this by interfering with constitutionally protected personal prerogatives.

"The proposal actually makes it a crime for a man to 'change or attempt to change an existing housing or cohabitation arrangement' with a pregnant significant other, to 'file or attempt to file for a divorce' from his pregnant wife or to 'withdraw or attempt to withdraw financial support' from a woman whom he has been supporting -- if it is determined that the man is doing these things to try to pressure the woman to terminate her pregnancy.

"This violates men's rights. The U.S. Constitution's protected liberty interests safeguard privacy in areas such as contraception, abortion, marriage, procreation, child rearing and sexual conduct between consenting adults.

"Do Michigan legislators believe these protections don't also cover the basic personal choices the proposal proscribes?

"The bill is also laden with unfair assumptions of male perfidy. There are many reasons why a man might be unhappy over his wife's or girlfriend's pregnancy, and consider ending his relationship with her. He may doubt that the child she is carrying is his. He may feel he was deceived into the pregnancy. She may lash out at him during her pregnancy-related mood swings, and he may take offense.

"A talented prosecuting attorney who may be looking for publicity could frame a man's decision as an attempt to coerce an abortion.

"The accused need not be convicted to suffer egregious harm -- the cost of criminal defense is often ruinous, and the emotional toll can be worse."The physical dangers from which House Bill 5882's supporters seek to protect pregnant women are real. It's debatable whether the bill's anti-violence provisions are good law, because the acts it specifies are already illegal.

"However, protecting women from violence is one thing -- punishing men for their peaceful, private conduct in their personal relationships is quite another."

Fathers For Equal Rights is a wonderful group that cares about what's best for the children.
  -- Janice N.

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