Local pro-life activist, Refuge House director weigh in on domestic violence affecting abortion

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 10:14 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 28, 2022 at 10:15 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - As our newsroom continues to follow the effects of Roe v. Wade and Florida House Bill 5, people on both sides of the abortion issue spoke to WCTV about the challenges women in domestic violence situations are facing.

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the 50-year precedent has created a complex issue for local women and families.

On one hand, the Sanctuary for Families reports homicide is the leading cause of death among pregnant women. Refuge House says that is directly related to domestic violence.

Emily Mitchem, the executive director of Refuge House, says if abortion isn’t an option, that could enable abusers. “For people who are in abusive relationships, a pregnancy can signal to them that they are going to be further tethered to their abuser for years and years to come,” Mitchem said.

Mitchem said pregnancy can sometimes create a bigger threat for women in domestic violence situations, and that there are tactics in place by an abuser that can cause unwanted pregnancy. “Damaging birth control, rape, coercion, different tactics that they use to impregnate their victims, in an attempt to maintain that power and control over them,” she said.

On the other hand, Andrew Shirvell with Florida Voice for the Unborn says the Supreme Court ruling is a step in the right direction, but he would like to see abortion completely outlawed in the state of Florida.

“I believe one of the reasons why our abortion rate is so high in the state is because we do have a number of perhaps hundreds or thousands of women who are pressured to abort by an abusive partner,” Shirvell says.

Both parties agree that there needs to be more resources for women and families going through child birth.

“The inability to access abortion care is going to place them at an increased risk for extreme violence up to and including homicide,” Mitchem said.

Shirvell said the State should provide more support and assistance to women to be able to choose life. “We can’t just prohibit abortions and leave mothers in dire circumstances, where they are subject to getting even into greater poverty because of the birth of a child,” he said.

Florida HB 5, which would ban abortions in the Sunshine State after 15 weeks, is set to take effect this Friday, July 1. However, the ban is being challenged in court.

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