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December 5th, 2011 by Glenn Sacks
Update (12/7/11): The Michigan House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors heard testimony on the bills yesterday but will not be voting on them until January at the earliest. Thanks to the hundreds of you who quickly responded to our Action Alert. Michigan Representative  Kurt Heise responded to Fathers and Families members over CAPA here.

Short Version: Fathers and Families has joined with the ACLU of Michigan in opposing the Michigan’s Coercive Abortion Prevention Act (CAPA). It is one thing to criminalize violence or threats of violence designed to coerce a woman into having an abortion. It is quite another to criminalize men’s personal relationship choices, as CAPA does. Fathers and Families does not take a position on abortion, but we do oppose CAPA. CAPA will be heard in Committee Tuesday December 6–we want you to email Fathers and Families’ opposition letter to the relevant committee members by clicking here.

Full Version: The CAPA was first proposed in 2006, and made it through the Michigan House by a 67-38 vote. In our column Coercive Abortion Prevention Act Assumes Male Guilt, Opens Door to Unfair Prosecutions (Detroit News, 11/30/06) we explained:

HB 5882 [CAPA] 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 who 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, marriage, procreation, child rearing and sexual conduct between consenting adults. Do Michigan legislators believe these protections don’t also cover the basic personal choices HB 5882 proscribes?…

The bill is also laden with unfair presumptions of male guilt. There are many legitimate reasons why a man might be unhappy over his wife or girlfriend’s pregnancy. He may leave because he doubts that the child she is carrying is his. He may want her to terminate a pregnancy because he felt he was deceived into getting her pregnant, and doesn’t want to be on the hook for 18 years of child support. He may leave because she blames him for not being a good enough provider, or lashes out at him during pregnancy-related mood swings. None of these behaviors are particularly chivalrous, but they are certainly understandable.

The current package of bills (HB 4799, 4798, 5132 & 5134) is largely similar to the 2006 CAPA, and the Michigan House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors is scheduled to hear the bills on Tuesday, December 6. Shelli Weisberg, Legislative Director of the ACLU of Michigan, has asked Fathers and Families to join them in opposing the bills. We want you to email Fathers and Families’ opposition letter to the relevant committee members by clicking here.

We’d also like you to call the committee members—to do so, please use the chart below.

Michigan House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors

Kenneth Kurtz
Committee Chair
[email protected] (517) 373-1794
Margaret E. O’Brien
Majority Vice-Chair
[email protected] (517) 373-1774
Gail Haines [email protected] (517) 373-0615
Kurt Heise [email protected] (517) 373-3816
Thomas Hooker [email protected] (517) 373-2277
Bruce Rendon [email protected] (517) 373-3817
Dian Slavens [email protected] (517) 373-2575
Marilyn Lane [email protected] (517) 373-0159
Maureen Stapleton [email protected] (517) 373-1008
Angie Lake
Committee Clerk
[email protected] (517) 373-5795

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