Threatening a woman into abortion illegal under proposed bill

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 | 4:26 p.m. CST; updated 3:32 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Husbands and wives can divorce in Missouri without needing a reason. But abortion opponents want to make it a crime if a man threatens divorce to pressure his wife into an abortion.

Spouses, boyfriends, parents, bosses and school officials also could face new abortion coercion charges under a proposal pending in the Missouri Legislature, if they threaten to kick a pregnant female out of their home, cut off financial support, fire her or revoke a scholarship.

Anti-abortion activists say the bill is necessary to protect women.

But critics claim the legislation would cause havoc in family law courts and infringe on free speech rights.

The legislation also would require that women have the option of viewing an ultrasound of their fetus before undergoing an abortion.

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