Michigan considers two pro-life ballot initiatives

Lansing, Mich., Jul 19, 2019 / 02:26 pm (CNA).- The Michigan Catholic Conference is urging state residents to support a petition drive for a ballot initiative to ban dilation and evacuation abortions, instead of a separate petition drive that seeks to ban abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

The competing initiatives are backed by different groups. The D&E abortion ban is being conducted by a group called Michigan Values Life, while the heartbeat ban is supported by the Michigan Heartbeat Coalition.

The Michigan Catholic Conference and Right to Life of Michigan are both supporting Michigan Values Life.

The ban on D&E abortions would make it a felony for a physician to perform the procedure, and the ballot initiative seeks to update the state’s existing ban on partial-birth abortions.

D&E abortions are typically done in the second trimester of pregnancy and involve the dismemberment of an unborn child.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has said she would veto any pro-life legislation. The ballot initiative push is a way for these bills to become law outside of her signature.

Presently, Michigan law prohibits all abortion, though this law is not enforced due to the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, but would go into back into effect if the decision were overturned. If the proposed heartbeat bill were to become law and Roe were overturned, it would actually liberalize existing Michigan abortion law and permit the abortion of infants prior to the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

“At worst, the heartbeat ban could be interpreted to create a conflict in the law and replace the 1931 ban, actually allowing abortions up until a baby’s heartbeat is detected,” said a fact sheet released by the Michigan Catholic Conference.

While it is not uncommon for pro-lifers to oppose heartbeat legislation due to the potential of expensive legal and constitutional challenges, this is relatively unusual as pro-life groups are opposing the heartbeat bill due to the existence of an even stronger piece of anti-abortion legislation.

Several states have passed “heartbeat bills” which have been signed into law. None of the bans have been allowed to actually go into effect due to legal challenges.

Supporters of either petition drive must get approximately 350,000 signatures for the questions to appear on the ballot.

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