Mich. legislator’s wife pressured to disclose abortion

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing – The wife of conservative state Rep. Lee Chatfield disclosed Friday she had an abortion in high school, saying she decided to discuss “one of the worst” decisions of her life after an unnamed individual threatened to take the story public.

Stephanie Chatfield, in a statement her husband shared on Facebook, encouraged young women facing unplanned pregnancies to “reach out and look for support.” She also told others who have had abortions that “there’s forgiveness in Christ.”

She began by thanking the person who threatened to reveal the information.

“You informed my husband that you had heard a rumor, and that you would keep digging,” Stephanie Chatfield wrote. “You promised that you would ensure that this story went public. In fact, your desire to see this story go public emboldened me to do something that I should have done years ago. After speaking it over with my husband, I felt that telling my story was best.”

Chatfield, R-Levering, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But in sharing her statement online, the former Christian school teacher said he was “extremely proud of my wife for her courage!”

House Republican spokesman Gideon D’Assandro said he had seen the Facebook post but did not know any additional details about the situation.

“Obviously if somebody is using personal histories or information as leverage, that’s very troubling,” D’Assandro said. “We’ll have to talk with Rep. Chatfield and see if there’s anything we should be doing to help.”

Chatfield is running for re-election this year in state House District 107, where Republican Kathy Twardy and Democrat Phil Bellfy have also filed to run. Twardy denied any involvement, while Bellfy could not be reached for comment.

“I’m really saddened for Stephanie and the Chatfields, but I don’t feel it has anything to do with my primary race,” said Twardy, a small business owner from Sault Ste. Marie.

Stephanie Chatfield, in her Friday statement, said she learned she was pregnant three weeks after attending a high school party.

“I have no memory of the majority of that night, but judging by my appearance and physical condition the next morning, I knew I had been taken advantage of,” she wrote.

She called her abortion “the easy way out” and said she was stricken by “unbearable guilt” for years after.

“To all Pro-Life advocates, be against abortion – yes, but let’s continue being proactive and looking for young girls and women who are hurting, suffering and confused so we can offer them assistance,” she wrote. “Let’s be about solutions and showing the true love of Christ to each and every woman in our communities and families.”

Her story prompted an outpouring of support from Republican legislators around the state who praised Stephanie Chatfield and decried the pressure allegedly placed on her family.

“It’s horrible how politics has become in our state,” Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth Township, wrote on Facebook. “Going after a candidate's spouse and children in this way is reprehensible and should be condemned by good people everywhere.”


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