To: Senate Human Services Committee
From: Christopher T. Dodson, Executive Director
Subject: Senate Bill 2265 - Abortion Non-Coercion Sign
Date: February 11, 2009

Senate Bill 2265 is a reasonable step to help address a serious matter that persons on all sides of the abortion debate should want to prevent - the problem of coerced abortions.

Decades of research demonstrate that many women feel forced by others to have an abortion. Coercion comes from boyfriends who use psychological pressure or physical threats, husbands who threaten divorce, parents who threaten to kick girls out the house or withdraw financial support, or employers who imply termination or penalization. Researchers estimate that as much as 64% of abortions involve coercion.

Taking steps to ensure that a woman is not forced into an abortion provides benefits beyond just making sure that she does not consent to a procedure for which she does not actually desire. By preventing coerced abortions, we can prevent harm to the woman and to her unborn child.

Coercion, if not addressed, can escalate into violence. Homicide is the leading cause of death among pregnant women. Studies show that domestic violence is a particularly acute problem among abortion patients, with one study indicating that 39.5% of women seeking abortion report abuse. Abortion patients also report a high rate of sexual abuse. Visual notification telling a woman about her right to not be coerced may be what encourages her to speak up and get the help she needs.

We request a Do Pass recommendation on Senate Bill 2265.