The need for anti-coercion laws in Texas


Recently in Houston, a woman was charged with disrupting a police investigation for trying to cover up the alleged rape of her adopted daughter by her son.  She is accused of taking her mentally disabled 12-year old daughter to Ohio to obtain an abortion after she became pregnant because of the rape.  The woman, 51-year old Cynthia Greenwood, is being charged with interrupting a police investigation, not for coercing her daughter to undergo an abortion 22 weeks into her pregnancy, but for trying to cover up the crime her son had committed by forcing the abortion of the child he fathered. 


Currently, there is no law in Texas protecting women and underage girls from being coerced into having an abortion.  Texas Right to Life has worked for the past four years to pass legislation that protects women and minors from being forced or unreasonably pressured into aborting their child.  Legislation that has been proposed the last two sessions, by Pro-Life leaders in the Texas Legislature working with Texas Right to Life, would require clinics and abortionists to screen for coercion.  If a woman shares that she is being coerced into the procedure, the doctor cannot proceed and must offer her a phone in a private room.  Numbers for law enforcement, abuse hotlines, and women’s shelters would be made readily available to her, and signs would be posted in every patient waiting area at abortion clinics, informing women that no one, regardless of their relationship to the woman, has a right to force them to undergo an abortion. 


The majority of pregnant women are not informed of their rights, or the resources available to them, and they are rarely offered a real alternative to abortion.  Texas Right to Life recognizes the need for a law to be in place that protects mothers and the unborn from being coerced in this life-changing and life-ending procedure.  In the Texas 82nd Legislature, Representative Bill Callegari (R-Katy) and Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) sponsored a bill that would have criminalized coercing or forcing a woman into an abortion.  Texas Right to Life praises these leaders since it is clear that public officials must recognize the great need to pass laws that will protect these women.   


In recent months, women have stepped forward and publicized their stories of being forced to have an abortion.  Many women face pressure from clinics, parents, boyfriends, husbands, and friends to abort their child.  Anti-coercion laws would protect women from those forcing her and make available all her options when deciding whether to give her child life.  


Forced abortion is a reality and current state law does nothing to protect women forced into the horrors of abortion.  The case in Houston is an example of how the law and courts have failed to protect women and underage girls from being forced to undergo an abortion.  The Pro-Life community must work to protect women, and their unborn children from those who would foist this upon them.  Texas Right to Life will continue its work to pass legislation that defends women from the pain of experiencing an unwanted abortion and criminalizing those responsible for forcing them into it. 


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