In the post-deer Midterm election climate, Michigan pro-lifers face a particularly intense fight in the form of a ballot measure that would add language to the state constitution allowing abortion during all nine months of pregnancy – thus eliminating existing state safety restrictions on abortion businesses and removing parental consent requirements not only for abortion, but also for sterilization and contraception.
This is a critical fight for Catholics and other life advocates in the state.
The Michigan Catholic Conference wrote that the amendment “would take Michigan far beyond what was permitted for abortion under deer. In the half century since deer, dozens of laws have been passed to regulate abortion. Under this amendment, those protections would disappear and abortion would be unlimited and unregulated.
Proposition 3, appearing on the November ballot, states that “everyone has a fundamental right to reproductive freedom, which includes the right to make and enforce decisions on all matters relating to pregnancy, including including, but not limited to, prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care.
It adds that “the State may regulate the provision of abortion care after fetal viability, provided that under no circumstances will the State prohibit an abortion which, in the professional judgment of a medical professional treating , is medically indicated to protect life or physical health. or the mental health of the pregnant person.
Eliminate pro-life protections
Erin Mersino, senior attorney at the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, told the Register that the proposal would allow “abortion during all nine months of pregnancy” and that it “erases all state laws currently in effect regarding abortion; all informed consent laws and parental consent laws would be struck down.
The wording of a constitutional right to abortion for “every individual,” she explained, allows “minor children to undergo abortion and sterilization without parental consent.”
Another part of the amendment prohibits the state from penalizing, prosecuting, or taking “adverse action” against anyone “for aiding or assisting a pregnant person in exercising their right to reproductive freedom with their consent.” voluntary”.
Mersino said part of the amendment “removes all health and safety requirements, all licensing requirements for abortion clinics,” saying the amendment is “the most extreme measure in the 50 States”.
Steve Aden, legal director and general counsel for Americans United for Life, told the Register that the amendment goes “far beyond what the Supreme Court has allowed, in terms of abortion,” because “even the court of Roe vs. Wade said there was a place for the government to promote its interest in protecting women from bad medicine, from poor quality abortionists, and that no longer seems to be the case.
Dr. Michelle Monticello, a Michigan resident who has worked as an obstetrician and gynecologist for more than 20 years, volunteers with Right to Life of Michigan. She told the Register that the amendment is alarming because “if you can’t prosecute or penalize someone for performing an abortion, and if something goes wrong, and there are long-term consequences, consequences harmful to the patient, what is your recourse? She said, “This is a big concern for health and safety standards in our state.”
Monticello addressed the use of the term “voluntary consent” in the amendment, which “simply means that someone asks for a service and they sign a piece of paper saying ‘Yes, I do,'” unlike existing state law. requiring that “a patient in a medical setting have what is called informed consent”, which “means that someone has told the patient about the procedure and what can go wrong with the procedure and what could be be the consequences, so that a patient can then make a complete decision as to whether or not they want to undergo the procedure.
She said, according to the wording of the amendment, “the informed consent law that we have on the books would go away.”
Monticello also found the amendment’s “lack of definition” of the term “healthcare professional” concerning, explaining that “current Michigan law requires that a physician perform an abortion procedure.” The state “currently lists over 40 different types and classifications of health care providers,” she pointed out, “so who exactly are they going to authorize to oversee these pregnancy terminations?”
Although the amendment allows the state to regulate “post-viable abortion care,” it notably includes an exception permitting abortion that “in the professional judgment of a treating health care professional is medically indicated to protect the life or the physical or mental health of the pregnant person. Monticello said “it opens the door wide to defining what a woman’s physical or mental health issue is any way you want.”
She also criticized the amendment’s broad definition of fetal viability as the point at which there is “a significant probability of sustained fetal survival outside the womb without the application of extraordinary medical measures.” She wondered if those measures included medication, intravenous therapy, oxygen therapy, or admission to the neonatal intensive care unit.
She described seeing full-term infants admitted to intensive care units, expressing concern about establishing this medical standard in the constitution, as “there is no guarantee at any point in pregnancy after childbirth that the infant will immediately thrive on its own.”
Monticello believes that in Michigan, “most people don’t want indefinite abortions throughout pregnancy; most people want restrictions placed on this, and they don’t understand that this removes any restriction by a medical professional who deems there is a medical indication to terminate the pregnancy throughout the gestation period.
She concluded of the amendment, “It is very clear that it will destroy every law that we have in place that is there to protect the women and children of Michigan.”
Crystal Kinard, a volunteer who does outreach to the African-American community with Right to Life of Michigan Southeast, told the Register that going door-to-door telling people about the extreme nature of the amendment , she has found that people are receptive to concerns about her broad language.
She feels the urgency of the issue, especially after watching the pro-life amendment to the Kansas state constitution fail in August. She had heard that part of the problem was “the pro-lifers haven’t come out to vote”, saying that “we all have to come out and vote and also talk to people”.
Kinard has gotten creative in how she starts these conversations and wears a “Social Justice Begins in the Womb” hoodie that she wears to spark discussions.
In her door-to-door plea, she referenced a recent discussion with a young woman who was not even aware of the proposal. During their conversation, Kinard explained that the wording of the amendment meant that abortion would be available until birth, saying the woman “wasn’t aware of that and she was definitely the type. “Wait a minute, can’t you hear the heartbeat before all that?”
Kinard, who is in the Diocese of Lansing, said she felt blessed with Bishop Earl Boyea’s leadership on the issue as he responded to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s promise to “fight like the hell” for abortion by urging the faithful to “fight like heaven.” She said she and others spreading the pro-life message took “fight like the sky” as their logo.
“God is in control, but we have to do our job,” she said, adding that those fighting the amendment have Zoom meetings every night to pray the rosary. Their rosaries began when Father Gordon Reigle of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in East Lansing was inspired in prayer to urge the faithful, with the support of Bishop Boyea, to make a 54-day rosary novena. for the defeat of the measure.
The Michigan Catholic Conference has identified defeating what it describes as the “Abortion By Any Means Amendment” as a top priority for Catholic voters.
“As Catholics who defend the dignity of all human life, from conception to natural death, it is time to come together and reject this dangerous proposition,” the conference stresses in the extensive online material it has collected. to educate voters on the issue. “The Catholic Bishops of Michigan urge a vote no on Proposition 3 and strongly urge you to tell everyone you know that this amendment goes too far on abortion and vote no.”
Depending on how this measure plays out in Michigan, pro-abortion ballot measures may become an important part of the post-deer countryside. Both The Washington Post and The New York Times recently noted, following the failed pro-life amendment to the Kansas Constitution, Democrats are seeking to take the approach of adding pro-abortion measures to the ballot in hopes of increasing the turnout of pro-abortion voters.
Five states have specific abortion-related initiatives on their ballots this year. Pro-abortion measures to consider in coming semesters include one in California saying the state cannot “deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions” and one in Vermont establishing a right to “personal reproductive autonomy”.
Other states, like New York, are in the process of approving abortion-related measures to add to their state constitutions for voters to consider in 2024. There will likely be an abortion amendment on the ballot in South Dakota in 2024 that would establish a right to abortion in the state constitution, with state regulation allowed after the second trimester, but with a broad “maternal health” exception “.
“You have states like New York, California, Illinois, that are virtually wiping the books of all abortion regulations,” Aden said. “It’s bad for women’s health, it’s dangerous for women, and it’s a complete disrespect for the value of human life.”