Unfinished Business: Gender Inequality in India’s Parliament

Deepali Gaur Singh

Despite some progress in electing women, too few women legislators are getting elected, and India's Parliament remains dominated by men.

Indian political parties are
still not walking their talk. Judging by the statistics on the number of women candidates
who contested this general election, the Indian Parliament will, yet again, continue
as a male-dominated space.  And yet, the current Lok Sabha elections have
been a watershed in independent India as 58
women parliamentarians
will occupy seats in the Lower House – while an
increase of slightly over one per cent since the last elections – and the "ten
percent" mark appears to have finally been breached.

In the 1984 general election 44
women became parliamentarians
.  Two decades later, the 2004 general election
returned about the same number of women parliamentarians to the 14th
Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament), constituting a little over eight percent
of the total law makers elected.  The 13th Lok Sabha included the maximum of 49
women members, representing slightly over nine percent of the total strength of
543 members.  Going further back into time, the figures become even starker,
considering that 80 women were elected to power during the pre-independence
elections of 1937 conducted under the Government of India Act, of course with
reservation for women in place.

The truth is that in post-Independence India, when
it comes to parliamentary representation, women have never been able to get
close to the ten percent mark.  Despite Articles 325 and 326, guaranteeing gender
equality, the unequal representation of women in national political parties has
become a norm rather than an aberration.  Women’s role and prominence in the election process
and politics has been reduced to "mothers/daughters/wives of" – and sometimes
"sisters of" – contesting candidates during election campaigns trails. 

Women as candidates

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It’s ironic that in over six
decades since independence and 15 Lok Sabha elections, several of India’s most
important political parties, despite being represented by firebrand, outspoken
and often controversial women leaders, continue to field almost insignificant
numbers of women candidates during polls.  Consequently, women constitute a
miniscule minority of the Lok Sabha.  Unlike many of its global democratic
counterparts, India can boast of a woman prime minister just three decades into
independence and yet women’s presence amidst the political leadership remains
small.  In most cases women, more specifically wives,
have been used as mere pawns to fill up spaces made vacant by the husband’s
disqualification in the electoral process or from their political berths due to
various reasons, like pending or ongoing criminal cases.  So, once elected, the
wife is expected to be the willing puppet with the strings firmly attached to
the spouse’s fingertips.

What makes this kind of
representation even worse is that it flagrantly positions the wife as a mere
façade rather than a serious candidate – doing little for the cause of women
who are serious contenders. Fortunately, many such replacement
candidates-cum-wives actually lost the elections, pointing to a mandate on both
the criminal past of the male candidate and their take on their wives’ new
found status of political puppets.

Some women’s groups have
attempted to play an active role in the political process, like in the elections
of 1991. The Akhil Bharatiya Mahila Dal (All India Women’s Party), for
instance, promoted itself as India’s "first and only women’s party," even fielding
400 candidates, but soon disappeared without as much as a smudge on the
political landscape. The world’s largest democracy, as a consequence, functions
with roughly half its population continuing to remain under-represented in
mainstream politics.

This worrying downward spiral
is reflected in the number of women given contesting tickets across political
parties, which has dropped from 247 in the 13th General Elections to 177 in the
14th General Elections, a trend reflected in the representation even from major
political parties known for their vociferous claims of a commitment to an
agenda of women’s empowerment, who nonetheless fall short of actually nominating
women candidates to contest elections. Of the 1,715 candidates in the fray for the
first phase of polling in 124 Lok Sabha constituencies (held in mid-April)
there were just 122
women candidates
. The argument remains at the level of the hen and egg
debate. Even though there is no real evidence suggesting that women candidates
do any worse than their male counterparts during elections, women are often not
seen as "winnable" contenders, thus losing the battle even before making it to
the battle ground. But the argument is particularly weak in the case of the Indian
polity, where people traditionally have reflected a tendency to vote for parties
rather than individuals.

But the real reason for women
candidates’ marginalization is the use of "muscle power," both financial and
physical, that might contribute to keeping women out of actual politics. Contesting
an election, today, entails huge financial spending by candidates, an amount that
many women might find hard to raise themselves. And given the largely prevalent
traditional, patriarchal mindset they might find it harder to find backers
either.  Besides, with politics considered a brutal, dirty business, women are
rarely encouraged to be a part of the process.  Very often women visible in the
political process are those who already belong to family with an existing
political background. The fact is that their already prevalent lack of
visibility in the public sphere tends to get reflected in their visibility in
the political sphere.

Woman as a voter

In the world’s
largest democracy, women constitute a potential 340 million voters out of a
total electorate of approximately 710 million. And yet their strength in the
Lower House of Parliament constitutes a meagre 10.6 percent. Only recently, three
young women
topped the national competitive exams for the Indian
Administrative Services (IAS) that will place them in important bureaucratic
positions in the nation’s bureaucracy –  but their political masters are still going to
be predominantly men. And not to be missed here is the candidate who was placed
second – the only child of a farmer from Punjab
– one of the states notorious for sex selective abortions and a dismally low sex
ratio. Further statistics show that among the top 25 candidates, 40% are women,
clearly pointing to the fact that with the availability of equal opportunities comes
representation. What is also significant about the results of the 15th
Lok Sabha is that the states
of Punjab and Haryana
– both stigmatized by skewed sex ratios – have actually registered a two-fold increase
in the number of women Members of Parliament (MP) entering the LS this time. Six
women candidates have won from their respective constituencies.

Women have a
huge stake in any election. The passage of some women-specific laws shows the
difference women in critical ministerial positions can make on issues and challenges
facing women. Correspondingly, fewer women candidates also points to the fact
that women’s issues are not a priority even in election manifestoes, let alone
post-election. Women, so far, have not been taken as serious voters. It is
assumed that their vote is determined by the voting pattern of the family
patriarch or the spouse (and in some cases the personal charisma of the male
candidate!) but rarely are considered a serious political agenda. And this is
despite the fact that some recent studies have shown that women are at par with
men while excising voting rights. According to 2009 electoral polls, women
voters are in majority in six states of the country.

Women’s issues

India ranks 115th of 162 countries in terms
of gender development.  Lack of representation directly translates into a de-sensitized political leadership that is completely cut-off from the issues
facing half the population of the country.  It also results in disproportionately less legislation empowering women, delays in the passing of
laws pertaining to women and very often actual blockage of laws addressing
issues specific to women and girls, some deliberately and others out of a
complete lack of understanding of women’s issues.  It is against a culture of
violence against women, whether in regard to domestic violence, preference for
male children reflected in sex-selective abortions, or the selective allocation
of resources to girls, dowry-related violence amongst others that also
manifests itself in government policies towards women. Often decisions on
women’s issues are made by state level bureaucrats and Members of state
legislative assemblies (MLAs) who are predominantly male, with little concern, sympathy
or understanding for problems facing women.  Laws like equal property rights or a
tougher anti-Sati
for women have faced stiff opposition from various quarters before
being passed or blocked.  Can blatantly anti-women policies or regressive laws
pass through a Parliament which is adequately represented by women themselves?

Reservation of one-third seats in Parliament and state
assemblies for women, also referred to as the Women’s Reservation Bill, has been
resisted by mostly male Members of Parliament (MPs) since it was first
introduced in 1997. Those fervently opposing the bill believe that reservations
of 33 percent will only translate into bringing urban elite women into power.  While reservation
quotas like these rarely bring a homogenized representation, even if the
argument were justified, what it is suggesting is that Indian women should and would
rather continue to be represented by a heterogeneous political leadership
consisting of men than urban educated women.  What this argument, rather
mischievously, also does is pit women against men of the backward classes and
castes, bringing the argument of gender equality on a collision course with men
from marginalized groups.  Besides, the very treatment of the reservation bill is
proof of the fact that women’s interests can never be completely represented by
a group of men. Keeping women from policy-making positions and decisions only
propagates the gender subjugation agenda.  In 2008, the Bill was introduced in
the Upper House of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) after women MPs formed a human chain
around the law minister to enable him to do this. But the big question is
whether it will get passed in the Lower House and become the law of the land.

The Women’s Bill stands out as a perfect example of abundant rhetoric and scarce intent.
Quite ironically, the drop in women’s candidatures this year coincides with the
introduction of Women’s Reservation Bill which is on the agenda of the
forthcoming Lok Sabha.

In contrast, in 1993, India enacted the
93rd and 94th Constitutional Amendments
, reserving 33 percent of seats in
local bodies for women. The fears expressed over this amendment too had been
similar; that women would be mere puppets with family patriarchs – the
father-in-law or husband – pulling the strings of power. And while true in many
cases, today, both the emblematic and tangible value of having over a million
women running Panchayati Raj institutions makes a compelling case for the
women’s bill to address the poor legislative representation of women across the
country.  What the country needs is more women as lawmakers to help bring to the
political arena issues that are specific and critical to them to be able to
create an atmosphere of greater sensitization.  Despite a new Lok Sabha and painfully
small increase in women’s representaion since the last election Indian
democracy continues to be challenged by the unfinished agenda of women’s
political empowerment.

Commentary Economic Justice

The Gender Wage Gap Is Not Women’s Fault, and Here’s the Report That Proves It

Kathleen Geier

The fact is, in every occupation and at every level, women earn less than men doing exactly the same work.

A new report confirms what millions of women already know: that women’s choices are not to blame for the gender wage gap. Instead, researchers at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the progressive think tank that issued the report, say that women’s unequal pay is driven by “discrimination, social norms, and other factors beyond women’s control.”

This finding—that the gender pay gap is caused by structural factors rather than women’s occupational choices—is surprisingly controversial. Indeed, in my years as a journalist covering women’s economic issues, the subject that has been most frustrating for me to write about has been the gender gap. (Full disclosure: I’ve worked as a consultant for EPI, though not on this particular report.) No other economic topic I’ve covered has been more widely misunderstood, or has been so outrageously distorted by misrepresentations, half-truths, and lies.

That’s because, for decades, conservatives have energetically promoted the myth that the gender pay gap does not exist. They’ve done such a bang-up job of it that denying the reality of the gap, like denying the reality of global warming, has become an article of faith on the right. Conservative think tanks like the Independent Women’s Forum and the American Enterprise Institute and right-wing writers at outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Breitbart, and the Daily Caller have denounced the gender pay gap as “a lie,” “not the real story,” “a fairy tale,” “a statistical delusion,” and “the myth that won’t die.” Sadly, it is not only right-wing propagandists who are gender wage gap denialists. Far more moderate types like Slate’s Hanna Rosin and the Atlantic’s Derek Thompson have also claimed that the gender wage gap statistic is misleading and exaggerates disparities in earnings.

According to the most recent figures available from the Census Bureau, for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes only 79 cents, a statistic that has barely budged in a decade. And that’s just the gap for women overall; for most women of color, it’s considerably larger. Black women earn only 61 percent of what non-Hispanic white men make, and Latinas earn only 55 percent as much. In a recent survey, U.S. women identified the pay gap as their biggest workplace concern. Yet gender wage gap denialists of a variety of political stripes contend that gender gap statistic—which measures the difference in median annual earnings between men and women who work full-time, year-round—is inaccurate because it does not compare the pay of men and women doing the same work. They argue that when researchers control for traits like experience, type of work, education, and the like, the gender gap evaporates like breath on a window. In short, the denialists frame the gender pay gap as the product not of sexist discrimination, but of women’s freely made choices.

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The EPI study’s co-author, economist Elise Gould, said in an interview with Rewire that she and her colleagues realized the need for the new report when an earlier paper generated controversy on social media. That study had uncovered an “unadjusted”—meaning that it did not control for differences in workplace and personal characteristics—$4 an hour gender wage gap among recent college graduates. Gould said she found this pay disparity “astounding”: “You’re looking at two groups of people, men and women, with virtually the same amount of experience, and yet their wages are so different.” But critics on Twitter, she said, claimed that the wage gap simply reflected the fact that women were choosing lower-paid jobs. “So we wanted to take out this one idea of occupational choice and look at that,” Gould said.

Gould and her co-author Jessica Schieder highlight two important findings in their EPI report. One is that, even within occupations, and even after controlling for observable factors such as education and work experience, the gender wage gap remains stubbornly persistent. As Gould told me, “If you take a man and a woman sitting side by side in a cubicle, doing the same exact job with the same amount of experience and the same amount of education, on average, the man is still going to be paid more than the woman.”

The EPI report cites the work of Harvard economist Claudia Goldin, who looked at the relative weight in the overall wage gap of gender-based pay differences within occupations versus those between occupations. She found that while gender pay disparities between different occupations explain 32 percent of the gap, pay differences within the same occupation account for far more—68 percent, or more than twice as much. In other words, even if we saw equal numbers of men and women in every profession, two-thirds of the gender wage gap would still remain.

And yes, female-dominated professions pay less, but the reasons why are difficult to untangle. It’s a chicken-and-egg phenomenon, the EPI report explains, raising the question: Are women disproportionately nudged into low-status, low-wage occupations, or do these occupations pay low wages simply because it is women who are doing the work?

Historically, “women’s work” has always paid poorly. As scholars such as Paula England have shown, occupations that involve care work, for example, are associated with a wage penalty, even after controlling for other factors. But it’s not only care work that is systematically devalued. So, too, is work in other fields where women workers are a majority—even professions that were not initially dominated by women. The EPI study notes that when more women became park rangers, for example, overall pay in that occupation declined. Conversely, as computer programming became increasingly male-dominated, wages in that sector began to soar.

The second major point that Gould and Schieder emphasize is that a woman’s occupational choice does not occur in a vacuum. It is powerfully shaped by forces like discrimination and social norms. “By the time a woman earns her first dollar, her occupational choice is the culmination of years of education, guidance by mentors, parental expectations, hiring practices, and widespread norms and expectations about work/family balance,” Gould told Rewire. One study cited by Gould and Schieder found that in states where traditional attitudes about gender are more prevalent, girls tend to score higher in reading and lower in math, relative to boys. It’s one of many findings demonstrating that cultural attitudes wield a potent influence on women’s achievement. (Unfortunately, the EPI study does not address racism, xenophobia, or other types of bias that, like sexism, shape individuals’ work choices.)

Parental expectations also play a key role in shaping women’s occupational choices. Research reflected in the EPI study shows that parents are more likely to expect their sons to enter male-dominated science, technology, engineering, and math (often called STEM) fields, as opposed to their daughters. This expectation holds even when their daughters score just as well in math.

Another factor is the culture in male-dominated industries, which can be a huge turn-off to women, especially women of color. In one study of women working in science and technology, Latinas and Black women reported that they were often mistaken for janitors—something that none of the white women in the study had experienced. Another found that 52 percent of highly qualified women working in science and technology ended up leaving those fields, driven out by “hostile work environments and extreme job pressures.”

Among those pressures are excessively long hours, which make it difficult to balance careers with unpaid care work, for which women are disproportionately responsible. Goldin’s research, Gould said, shows that “in jobs that have more temporal flexibility instead of inflexibility and long hours, you do see a smaller gender wage gap.” Women pharmacists, for example, enjoy relatively high pay and a narrow wage gap, which Goldin has linked to flexible work schedules and a professional culture that enables work/life balance. By contrast, the gender pay gap is widest in highest-paying fields such as finance, which disproportionately reward those able to work brutally long hours and be on call 24/7.

Fortunately, remedies for the gender wage gap are at hand. Gould said that strong enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, greater wage transparency (which can be achieved through unions and collective bargaining), and more flexible workplace policies would all help to alleviate gender-based pay inequities. Additional solutions include raising the minimum wage, which would significantly boost the pay of the millions of women disproportionately concentrated in the low-wage sector, and enacting paid family leave, a policy that would be a boon for women struggling to combine work and family. All of these issues are looming increasingly large in our national politics.

But in order to advance these policies, it’s vital to debunk the right’s shameless, decades-long disinformation campaign about the gender gap. The fact is, in every occupation and at every level, women earn less than men doing exactly the same work. The right alleges that the official gender pay gap figure exaggerates the role of discrimination. But even statistics that adjust for occupation and other factors can, in the words of the EPI study, “radically understate the potential for gender discrimination to suppress women’s earnings.”

Contrary to conservatives’ claims, women did not choose to be paid consistently less than men for work that is every bit as valuable to society. But with the right set of policies, we can reverse the tide and bring about some measure of economic justice to the hard-working women of the United States.

News Law and Policy

Texas Lawmaker’s ‘Coerced Abortion’ Campaign ‘Wildly Divorced From Reality’

Teddy Wilson

Anti-choice groups and lawmakers in Texas are charging that coerced abortion has reached epidemic levels, citing bogus research published by researchers who oppose legal abortion care.

A Texas GOP lawmaker has teamed up with an anti-choice organization to raise awareness about the supposed prevalence of forced or coerced abortion, which critics say is “wildly divorced from reality.”

Rep. Molly White (R-Belton) during a press conference at the state capitol on July 13 announced an effort to raise awareness among public officials and law enforcement that forced abortion is illegal in Texas.

White said in a statement that she is proud to work alongside The Justice Foundation (TJF), an anti-choice group, in its efforts to tell law enforcement officers about their role in intervening when a pregnant person is being forced to terminate a pregnancy. 

“Because the law against forced abortions in Texas is not well known, The Justice Foundation is offering free training to police departments and child protective service offices throughout the State on the subject of forced abortion,” White said.

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White was joined at the press conference by Allan Parker, the president of The Justice Foundation, a “Christian faith-based organization” that represents clients in lawsuits related to conservative political causes.

Parker told Rewire that by partnering with White and anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), TJF hopes to reach a wider audience.

“We will partner with anyone interested in stopping forced abortions,” Parker said. “That’s why we’re expanding it to police, social workers, and in the fall we’re going to do school counselors.”

White only has a few months remaining in office, after being defeated in a closely contested Republican primary election in March. She leaves office after serving one term in the state GOP-dominated legislature, but her short time there was marked by controversy.

During the Texas Muslim Capitol Day, she directed her staff to “ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws.”

Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said in an email to Rewire that White’s education initiative overstates the prevalence of coerced abortion. “Molly White’s so-called ‘forced abortion’ campaign is yet another example that shows she is wildly divorced from reality,” Busby said.

There is limited data on the how often people are forced or coerced to end a pregnancy, but Parker alleges that the majority of those who have abortions may be forced or coerced.

‘Extremely common but hidden’

“I would say that they are extremely common but hidden,” Parker said. “I would would say coerced or forced abortion range from 25 percent to 60 percent. But, it’s a little hard be to accurate at this point with our data.”

Parker said that if “a very conservative 10 percent” of the about 60,000 abortions that occur per year in Texas were due to coercion, that would mean there are about 6,000 women per year in the state that are forced to have an abortion. Parker believes that percentage is much higher.

“I believe the number is closer to 50 percent, in my opinion,” Parker said. 

There were 54,902 abortions in Texas in 2014, according to recently released statistics from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The state does not collect data on the reasons people seek abortion care. 

White and Parker referenced an oft cited study on coerced abortion pushed by the anti-choice movement.

“According to one published study, sixty-four percent of American women who had abortions felt forced or unduly pressured by someone else to have an unwanted abortion,” White said in a statement.

This statistic is found in a 2004 study about abortion and traumatic stress that was co-authored by David Reardon, Vincent Rue, and Priscilla Coleman, all of whom are among the handful of doctors and scientists whose research is often promoted by anti-choice activists.

The study was cited in a report by the Elliot Institute for Social Sciences Research, an anti-choice organization founded by Reardon. 

Other research suggests far fewer pregnant people are coerced into having an abortion.

Less than 2 percent of women surveyed in 1987 and 2004 reported that a partner or parent wanting them to abort was the most important reason they sought the abortion, according to a report by the Guttmacher Institute.

That same report found that 24 percent of women surveyed in 1987 and 14 percent surveyed in 2004 listed “husband or partner wants me to have an abortion” as one of the reasons that “contributed to their decision to have an abortion.” Eight percent in 1987 and 6 percent in 2004 listed “parents want me to have an abortion” as a contributing factor.

‘Flawed research’ and ‘misinformation’  

Busby said that White used “flawed research” to lobby for legislation aimed at preventing coerced abortions in Texas.

“Since she filed her bogus coerced abortion bill—which did not pass—last year, she has repeatedly cited flawed research and now is partnering with the Justice Foundation, an organization known to disseminate misinformation and shameful materials to crisis pregnancy centers,” Busby said.  

White sponsored or co-sponsored dozens of bills during the 2015 legislative session, including several anti-choice bills. The bills she sponsored included proposals to increase requirements for abortion clinics, restrict minors’ access to abortion care, and ban health insurance coverage of abortion services.

White also sponsored HB 1648, which would have required a law enforcement officer to notify the Department of Family and Protective Services if they received information indicating that a person has coerced, forced, or attempted to coerce a pregnant minor to have or seek abortion care.

The bill was met by skepticism by both Republican lawmakers and anti-choice activists.

State affairs committee chairman Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) told White during a committee hearing the bill needed to be revised, reported the Texas Tribune.

“This committee has passed out a number of landmark pieces of legislation in this area, and the one thing I think we’ve learned is they have to be extremely well-crafted,” Cook said. “My suggestion is that you get some real legal folks to help engage on this, so if you can keep this moving forward you can potentially have the success others have had.”

‘Very small piece of the puzzle of a much larger problem’

White testified before the state affairs committee that there is a connection between women who are victims of domestic or sexual violence and women who are coerced to have an abortion. “Pregnant women are most frequently victims of domestic violence,” White said. “Their partners often threaten violence and abuse if the woman continues her pregnancy.”

There is research that suggests a connection between coerced abortion and domestic and sexual violence.

Dr. Elizabeth Miller, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh, told the American Independent that coerced abortion cannot be removed from the discussion of reproductive coercion.

“Coerced abortion is a very small piece of the puzzle of a much larger problem, which is violence against women and the impact it has on her health,” Miller said. “To focus on the minutia of coerced abortion really takes away from the really broad problem of domestic violence.”

A 2010 study co-authored by Miller surveyed about 1,300 men and found that 33 percent reported having been involved in a pregnancy that ended in abortion; 8 percent reported having at one point sought to prevent a female partner from seeking abortion care; and 4 percent reported having “sought to compel” a female partner to seek an abortion.

Another study co-authored by Miller in 2010 found that among the 1,300 young women surveyed at reproductive health clinics in Northern California, about one in five said they had experienced pregnancy coercion; 15 percent of the survey respondents said they had experienced birth control sabotage.

‘Tactic to intimidate and coerce women into not choosing to have an abortion’

TJF’s so-called Center Against Forced Abortions claims to provide legal resources to pregnant people who are being forced or coerced into terminating a pregnancy. The website includes several documents available as “resources.”

One of the documents, a letter addressed to “father of your child in the womb,” states that that “you may not force, coerce, or unduly pressure the mother of your child in the womb to have an abortion,” and that you could face “criminal charge of fetal homicide.”

The letter states that any attempt to “force, unduly pressure, or coerce” a women to have an abortion could be subject to civil and criminal charges, including prosecution under the Federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

The document cites the 2007 case Lawrence v. State as an example of how one could be prosecuted under Texas law.

“What anti-choice activists are doing here is really egregious,” said Jessica Mason Pieklo, Rewire’s vice president of Law and the Courts. “They are using a case where a man intentionally shot his pregnant girlfriend and was charged with murder for both her death and the death of the fetus as an example of reproductive coercion. That’s not reproductive coercion. That is extreme domestic violence.”

“To use a horrific case of domestic violence that resulted in a woman’s murder as cover for yet another anti-abortion restriction is the very definition of callousness,” Mason Pieklo added.

Among the other resources that TJF provides is a document produced by Life Dynamics, a prominent anti-choice organization based in Denton, Texas.

Parker said a patient might go to a “pregnancy resource center,” fill out the document, and staff will “send that to all the abortionists in the area that they can find out about. Often that will stop an abortion. That’s about 98 percent successful, I would say.”

Reproductive rights advocates contend that the document is intended to mislead pregnant people into believing they have signed away their legal rights to abortion care.

Abortion providers around the country who are familiar with the document said it has been used for years to deceive and intimidate patients and providers by threatening them with legal action should they go through with obtaining or providing an abortion.

Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, previously told Rewire that abortion providers from across the country have reported receiving the forms.

“It’s just another tactic to intimidate and coerce women into not choosing to have an abortion—tricking women into thinking they have signed this and discouraging them from going through with their initial decision and inclination,” Saporta said.

Busby said that the types of tactics used by TFJ and other anti-choice organizations are a form of coercion.

“Everyone deserves to make decisions about abortion free of coercion, including not being coerced by crisis pregnancy centers,” Busby said. “Anyone’s decision to have an abortion should be free of shame and stigma, which crisis pregnancy centers and groups like the Justice Foundation perpetuate.”

“Law enforcement would be well advised to seek their own legal advice, rather than rely on this so-called ‘training,” Busby said.