Virginia Coerced Abortion Ban (SB 277)
This law was last updated on Oct 22, 2014
SB 277 would have made anyone who forces a pregnant woman to have an abortion against her will guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.
The bill also would have permitted a woman who was forced or coerced into having an abortion to bring a civil action against the person who forced or coerced her into having an abortion, and would have permitted the woman to bring a cause of action for wrongful death against that person.
The bill defines “forces or coerces” to mean “committing, attempting to commit, or threatening to commit physical harm to the woman, unborn child, or another person intended to compel a pregnant female to have an abortion performed against her will.”
The bill defines “threat” to means “at least one statement, or a course of conduct by an individual that places one in reasonable apprehension that the individual will follow through with his statement or act as implied by his course of conduct.”
The bill states that “threat” does not include constitutionally protected speech or any generalized statement regarding a lawful pregnancy option, including but not limited to an emotional expression by a family or household member of the pregnant woman.
According to a report from the Guttmacher Institute, the number of instances in which a woman may have been coerced into terminating a pregnancy is much fewer than those reported by anti-choice groups like the Elliot Institute, which reported that 64 percent of women felt pressured by others to to have an abortion. One study found that the proportion of women citing influence from partners or parents as their most important reason for terminating their pregnancy was less than 1 percent.