How Right to Life has dominated Michigan abortion politics since Roe v. Wade

Kaylee Tegethoff

Kaylee Tegethoff, a 21-year-old student at Western Michigan University, gathers signatures for a Right to Life petition drive at the Van Buren Youth Fair in Hartford in July. (Courtesy photo)

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It was a very good summer for anti-abortion forces in Michigan. 

In June, they won the right to call a common procedure “dismemberment abortion” on ballot petitions seeking to end the practice. A second petition, also approved, would enact a “heatbeat” ban, forbidding abortions once cardiac activity is detected in a fetus. Through a quirk in Michigan, at least one of the measures stands a strong chance of becoming law next year, despite an abortion-rights advocate in the governor’s office.    

Then, in August, came news that Planned Parenthood of Michigan, the state’s largest abortion provider, would no longer receive more than $4 million in federal funds to care for low-income patients, citing what it called gag rules that prevented the group from providing information to patients about abortion.

The recent victories might seem improbable in a state that has consistently favored abortion rights in public opinion polls, reflecting a national sentiment since the 1970s, when the U.S. Supreme Court first legalized the procedure. 

In truth, anti-abortion groups led by Right to Life of Michigan have steamrolled abortion-rights activists for decades, scoring victories in Lansing and at the ballot box as they steadily chip away at abortion access.

Genevieve Marnon

Genevieve Marnon, legislative director of Right to Life of Michigan, remembers her mother working to preserve the state’s abortion ban in the early 1970s, before the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalized the procedure in the United States. (Bridge photo by Robin Erb)

The key has been a grassroots organization of thousands of passionate volunteers, along with what’s been called the “golden ticket” of Right to Life candidate endorsements that, over the years, have helped to build a largely anti-abortion Legislature.

“It’s a reflection of organization and the power of the Right to Life movement in the Republican primary,” said Tom Shields, a GOP strategist and founder of Marketing Resource Group, a Lansing-based public relations firm.

Bernie Porn, a former Democratic staffer and strategist and founder of Lansing-based polling group EPIC-MRA, has watched for years as Right to Life ushered in a tide of Republicans to Lansing.

“Right to Life of Michigan knows that ‒ because they’re so supported by the Republican Legislature ‒ if they initiate a petition, they have a good chance of passing any pro-life legislation,” Porn said. “And (Gov.) Gretchen Whitmer wouldn’t have a thing to say about it.”

He’s referring to citizens’ petition drives ‒ grassroots efforts to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures by ringing doorbells or approaching visitors at county fairs across the state ‒ backed by experienced, battle-hardened strategists.

In petition drives since 1987, Right to Life has ensured that government funds aren’t used to pay for the procedures; that women need to purchase a separate health insurance rider to cover abortion costs, and that minors cannot obtain an abortion without the consent of a parent

It also has pushed through other laws by working directly with legislators ‒ including measures requiring women to be counseled or to wait for 24 hours before getting an abortion. 

This past spring, as Whitmer and state Republican leaders pledged to work together to solve Michigan’s challenges, the abortion wars returned to the capitol. In a sharply partisan vote and with the voice Right to Life of Michigan behind them, the GOP-led Senate and House passed laws that would ban the most common second-trimester abortion method, dilation and evacuation ‒ which Right to Life calls “dismemberment abortion.” 

Whitmer promised to veto any such legislation, which is what prompted Right to Life of Michigan to lead what is now its fifth ballot drive since Roe (it’s currently four for four) asking voters to ban the D&E procedure. If RTL gathers enough signatures to put it on the November 2020 ballot, the Legislature has the option to approve the measure on its own rather than waiting for voters to weigh in. Significantly in Michigan, the Legislature’s passage of a citizens petition means the governor cannot veto the law. 

Knowing how to draw the line 

The dizzying pace of abortion restrictions in Michigan comes as a majority of Michiganders continue to express general support for abortion rights. 

In August, 54 percent of Michiganders said they were “pro-choice,” meaning they believed in a woman’s right to an abortion, while 40 percent said they were “pro-life,” which was defined in the poll as meaning they are against abortions except to save life of the mother. Six percent said they were undecided, according to EPIC-MRA.

Those results echo national sentiments about abortion, which likewise have not changed much over the years, according to Gallup, which has been tracking national attitudes on abortion since 1975. 

One political strategist said Planned Parenthood’s role in advocating for abortion rights can threaten its work in Republican strongholds, where it provides non-abortion services, such as routine health exams and cancer screenings. Here, Lori Carpentier, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Michigan, addressed the crowd at a Stop the Bans rally in Ann Arbor in May. (Courtesy photo)

Most Americans, 53 percent, feel abortion should remain legal but with restrictions, according to its most recent poll. Another 25 percent say it should be legal, period. According to Gallup, just 21 percent of Americans feel it should be banned in all cases.

Chris Gast, spokesman for Right to Life of Michigan, noted how the group focuses on what he calls the “mushy middle” — those voters who are “uncomfortable with abortion, but they don’t know where to draw the legal line.”

Right to Life’s success has been to strategically frame the limits of what Michigan voters are willing to keep legal, or at least what they are willing to pay for. It’s why the group fought to frame its 2020 ballot proposal as “dismemberment abortion” rather than using the more clinical medical term, “dilation and evacuation.”  

Winning the rhetorical battle helps the group gather petition signatures from ambivalent, middle-ground voters. Words like “fetal heatbeat”, “partial-birth” and “dismemberment abortion” create a powerful, visceral reaction that abortion-rights activists have not always been able to match.     

Gast wouldn’t say how many signatures Right to Life has collected so far. The group plans to submit at least 400,000 signatures to the state by Dec. 23, the end of its 180-day legal window under state law since the launch of its drive, Gast said. Just over 340,000 signatures must be valid to qualify for the ballot, according to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office.

“The key are our affiliates around the state,” Gast said, referring to a statewide network of volunteers who fan out to shopping centers, church meetings and tailgate parties with petitions in hand.

The Michigan Catholic Conference is among those allies, and the office of Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, who supports the Right to Life petition, has encouraged the state’s seven dioceses to address the issue with their parishes, according to David Maluchnik, spokesman for the Michigan Catholic Conference. That means churchgoers may hear from a priest or  follow congregant at Mass about the need to “prayerfully consider” signing the petitions.

The second, more restrictive abortion petition, from a group called Michigan Heartbeat Coalition, asks voters to ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, effectively around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they’re pregnant.

Right to Life of Michigan and the Catholic Church have not supported the Heartbeat Coalition effort, worried that it may be more vulnerable to legal challenge and put at risk Michigan’s other anti-abortion measures.

Adrian Hemond, a Democratic political consultant and president of political consulting firm Grassroots Midwest, said Right to Life also has successfully leveraged Republican lawmakers in Lansing.

Planned Parenthood and abortion-rights advocates have not been able to match Right to Life’s muscle, he said, in part because Planned Parenthood also offers women’s health and family planning services and education throughout the state, including in largely Republican counties, which constrains the group’s advocacy on abortion rights. 

"Planned Parenthood is in a rough position from an advocacy perspective,” he said. “They have to walk a very fine line." 

Carpentier

Lori Carpentier of Planned Parenthood of Michigan said this year’s flurry of anti-abortion laws passed in various state legislatures is aimed at challenging the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal. (Courtesy photo)

Other abortion rights groups arguably should be more organized and more vocal, he said. But as it stands now, RTL "is an advocacy organization and this is literally the only thing they do."

The golden ticket 

In Michigan, as in much of the nation, legislative opposition to abortion has generally become synonymous with Republican opposition.  

In 2018, 78 of the 80 Republicans who won seats in the 2018 election were endorsed or somehow supported by Right to Life of Michigan, according to an analysis by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. If history is any guide, they won’t stray.  

Candidates who secure a Right to Life endorsement get more than a few words on campaign literature. They get access to the RTL’s powerful list of passionate, single-issue voters likely to turn out to the polls. The group also sends out literature on behalf of favored candidates, most effectively by pushing listings of endorsed candidates to supporters through mailings, emails, social media and its website.

Shields, the Republican strategist, said he witnessed the group’s sway in the state’s most recent U.S. Senate race, in which he worked with Sandy Pensler of Grosse Pointe. Pensler and John James of Farmington Hills faced each other in the GOP primary in a bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow last November.

Both men ran as anti-abortion, but Pensler, 61, acknowledged he had once supported abortion rights and that he would back exceptions in any future abortion ban for cases involving rape or incest. 

Right to Life endorsed James. 

“We saw the effect right away in the polls,” Shields said. James went on to win the Republican primary, though he later lost to Stabenow.

Anti-abortion activists “are loyal to the issue, and Right to Life has organized that passion,” Shields said. For a candidate, “the use of (RTL’s) lists is a golden ticket to the legislature.”

Once endorsed by Right to Life and sent to Lansing, Republican lawmakers “don’t break ranks on the abortion issue,” he said.

Picking a team 

As abortion becomes more partisan in Lansing and Washington, polls shows that Americans are more likely to declare which side they are on.

A larger percentage of Americans now self-identify as “pro-choice” or “pro-life”, and a record high in voters ‒ nearly 3 in 10 ‒ now say they will vote for a candidate for major office only if that candidate’s views on abortion match their own, according to the recent Gallup poll.

Porn, of EPIC-MRA, who began working in Democratic hallways as a college student in the early 1970s, says he sees it in Michigan too. Though abortion has always been an emotional debate, “people are so strident in their position now.”

And that means fewer abortion rights advocates among Republicans and fewer abortion opponents among Democrats, said John Gleason, the Genessee County Clerk. 

Gleason served in the Michigan House and Senate until term-limited out of state office in 2014. He belongs to a once-familiar subset of Democrats: “pro-life, Irish, and Catholic.” 

Gleason considered running for Congress after leaving the statehouse but eventually ran instead for county clerk. 

Especially among elected officials, he said, “there’s no ability to convert to a moderate anymore.”   

The state’s voting maps already give Republican candidates an edge over Democrats in reaching Lansing, Gleason noted, even as the impact of the Tea Party activism lingers in Michigan. To win a Republican primary, he said, “you have to be so extreme.”

Demands for party purity on abortion or other issues hurt Michigan voters, in his view. Elections swung by single issues such as abortion or gun control fill the statehouse with single-issue lawmakers ‒ politicians focused on the next election and beholden to special interests instead of policy leaders with the public good in mind.

Gleason said there is no easy fix, “but I also know that you’re not going to fix the roads if 110 state representatives and 38 senators got elected only on the pro-life issue. You have to have a more complex view of policymaking.”

Perhaps, but ideological nuance has not been a hallmark of modern political parties, at least not when it comes to abortion. 

In 2016, the National Democratic party reinforced the stand it had made four years earlier that Democrats “strongly and unequivocally support Roe v. Wade.” Dems also called for reversal of the Hyde Amendment, a 40-year-old law that, with few exceptions, prohibits federal funds being used in abortions. For some, it marked an aggressive shift  from the middle-ground position that Bill Clinton had once painted as “safe, legal and rare.”

Republicans hardened their stand, too, in Lansing and in Washington.

Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016 suggested criminally punishing women who got abortion in addition to abortion providers — a stance that made even some abortion opponents uncomfortable. The president doubled down in his most recent State of the Union address, portraying Democratic legislation in New York as allowing a baby “to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth.” 

As the political divide deepens, Right to Life of Michigan and Planned Parenthood have increasingly relied on super PAC money to influence Lansing. Unlike traditional political action committees, super PACs can accept money from corporations, including nonprofit corporations that can raise money from donors who don’t have to be identified under Michigan campaign finance law.

Lori Carpentier, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Michigan, underscored party divides when she said during an interview on public television’s “Media Meet” that year. “Nobody in the Republican Party has come forward to support women’s health issues,” she said. “So it’s pretty clear who we’re backing.”

Meanwhile, Right to Life’s focus continues in Lansing. 

Rep. Brian Elder, a Democrat from Bay City, had Right to Life’s backing when he won state House election in 2016. In 2018, he was considered a candidate to be the next House Democratic leader. He didn’t seek Right to Life’s support in that race.

“It was surprising to me to see how the organization called Right to Life operated down here in Lansing,” Elder said in an interview. “And by the end of my first year here, I had just made the personal decision that I really wouldn’t be told what to do on any given bill. I would just make my own decisions. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of this, I didn’t want to be controversial in any way, but Right to Life was bothered by that.”

Elder said Right to Life had become more extreme in its positions and he didn’t see why a Democrat would want to associate with the organization.

In August 2018, RTL suggested in a blog post headlined “Brian Elder: Profile in Cowardice” that the representative had changed his position to help win the House Democratic leadership race. 

Blog post

A blog post from Right to Life Michigan criticized Rep. Brian Elder in 2018.

Right to Life of Michigan was also upset Elder had introduced a bill that would require “pro-life pregnancy centers” to post disclaimers that they are “not licensed as a health facility,” calling the bill a “blindside attack.”

“For shame, Rep. Elder.  For shame,” the blog post said.

Gunning for Roe  

Trump’s successful nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court last year has prompted speculation that the court will soon overturn Roe v. Wade. The court’s rightward shift has prompted a number of conservative state legislatures to pass highly restrictive abortion laws, including outright bans, in a bid to get Roe’s central holding back before the justices. 

That worries abortion rights advocates in Michigan, where a 1931 state law outlawing abortion remains on the books, should Roe be reversed. 

“I’ve been around Planned Parenthood for 34 years,” Carpentier told Bridge. “There was a time when (state) legislators looked at what they were going to do and gauged whether it would be deemed to be unconstitutional. But now with Kavanaugh, they don’t care. Everybody is vying to be the case sending this back to the Supreme Court.”

Genevieve Marnon, legislative director at Right to Life of Michigan, said she  remembers her mother rallying forces against a 1972 measure that would have legalized abortion in Michigan, a year before Roe made that the law of the land. Though the ballot measure failed, sustaining Michigan’s abortion ban, it was made moot the following year by Roe. 

But Marnon and Carpentier agree on this: Abortion-rights Republicans and anti-abortion Democrats are endangered species both in Washington and Lansing, replaced by the “idea that you have to align with a particular party,” Marnon said.

According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, just two Michigan Democratic candidates for state office in 2018 were supported by RTL. One was Cynthia Luczak of Bay City, who won a contested primary but lost in the general election for Senate. The other, Rhonda Barley of Redford Township, lost in a four-way primary race for the state House.

“People don’t want to stand alone,” Barley said of why few Democrats now seek Right to Life backing. “In the political arena, everybody wants to be politically correct.”

But Andrea Geralds, who supports abortion rights, said she isn’t convinced the middle ground is disappearing, or that the issue must be so partisan that she can’t win over Republican voter support.

The Macomb County woman has been traveling the state to rally support against the petition drives by Right to Life and the Heartbeat Coalition. She is collecting names to build a “rapid response database” ‒ a list of abortion-rights supporters to recruit in case either of the two petitions restricting abortions are successful in collecting the necessary signatures. 

“You can’t expect any group to be a monolith,” she said, referring to her efforts to reach voters across the political spectrum. “It seems like a partisan issue, but we can’t assume that. You have to dig down deeper to find out what people really believe, where their limits are.”

Cheyna Roth is Capitol reporter for Michigan Public Radio Network. Craig Mauger is executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

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Comments

Arjay
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 8:52am

No way should a politician interfere with medical decisions made between a patient and a doctor.

Victoria Bigelow
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 10:07am

I totally agree. It’s time to shut these pro forced gestation/birth movements down once and for all.

Matt
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 2:49pm

Yes, people being allowed to petition their government etc., this has got to be stopped!

Matt
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 2:45pm

You didn't answer my question last time. If the "medical" care being sought is being paid for by the tax payers should politicians have a say?

Kevin Grand
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 9:03am

Interesting how The Bridge frames an patently obvious opinion piece as " Michigan Health Watch".

And more Orwellian tags for future articles.

Liz
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 1:31pm

Abortion is a medical procedure and health issue and is recognized as such by every single medical board in the country and in most parts of the World. Your opinion on that doesn't make facts opinions as well, its just your opinion. Your reference to Orwell would be more accurate if used when to describe the Right to Life's use of propaganda and Government to subvert the rights of Michiganders and the participation in their Government.

Kevin Grand
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 8:11pm

Liz, does the phrase, "Do no harm," mean anything to you?

Your "medical procedure" negates the health of someone in that equation.

Or, did you just not make that connection yet?

John Q. Public
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 6:55pm

It's in keeping with the anti-abortionists calling themselves pro-life.

Bob Carr
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 9:30am

As Candidate for Michigan United States Senator last week I called on both Pro Life AND Pro Choice to make Option NO. 1 the 'Foster Care and Adoption Option'. I grew up in over 20 foster homes being born in a drug detox center Hillsdale. But I was allowed to be born. Right to Life a bit nervous I am driving the narrative. Well, that will be my job as Senator. Bob Carr win@electbobcarr.com electbobcarr2020.com

Matt
Fri, 09/13/2019 - 8:11am

Sorry Bob since you're not a woman (?) how could your perspective have any relevance to the issue?

Douglas P. Stout
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 9:31am

I am offended on behalf of Bridge for the publication of this article. And, it clearly violates the promise of Bridge to publish unbiased journalism. Despite your political viewpoint, any reader will recognize that the article is simply not balanced. It clearly supports a single political agenda and is contentious. Very disappointed.

David Zeman
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 10:01am

Hi Douglas, curious to know more about why you feel the article is biased, and in which direction? Can you flesh out your concerns? 

David Zeman, Bridge Editor 

 

GP For Life
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 11:44am

Mr. Zeman,

If you honestly cannot identify the biased tones in this piece, then I find your position as an editor concerning. Conversely, if you can, and publish it anyway, I find that equally as concerning. Either way, this is why the American public holds journalism and journalists in such low regard. However, I'll humor your request for details, and will look forward to your reply.

Let us start with the very first sentence: "It was a very good summer for anti-abortion forces in Michigan." Anti-abortion forces, not pro-life activists, anti abortion "forces." Sounds so sinister.

"In truth, anti-abortion groups led by Right to Life of Michigan have steamrolled abortion-rights activists for decades, scoring victories in Lansing and at the ballot box as they steadily chip away at abortion access." Let's just skip over the use of "steamrolled" and instead focus on "abortion rights." This is one of those terms that pops up every few years, usually around elections and trends well. In reality, there's no "right" to abortion. The right is in regard to privacy from the state. Courts cannot, and do not, confer (or defer) rights in this country. However, that's just another subject all together. It does, however, remind me that this statement: "...since the 1970s, when the U.S. Supreme Court first legalized the procedure." SCOTUS didn't "legalize" it. In fact, abortion was legal, de facto and/or de jour, in many states prior to Roe.

"The key has been a grassroots organization of thousands of passionate volunteers, along with what’s been called the “golden ticket” of Right to Life candidate endorsements that, over the years, have helped to build a largely anti-abortion Legislature."

First, "largely anti-abortion," is an opinion, not a fact. Also, there's no reason to capitalize legislature here.

"Bernie Porn, a former Democratic staffer and strategist and founder of Lansing-based polling group EPIC-MRA, has watched for years as Right to Life ushered in a tide of Republicans to Lansing."

This one is a little puzzling because from 1992 to 2019 the state senate has never been controlled by the Democrats and the house has only gone blue seven times. Is the reader suppose to believe that this is all because of Right to Life?

"A larger percentage of Americans now self-identify as “pro-choice” or “pro-life”, and a record high in voters ‒ nearly 3 in 10 ‒ now say they will vote for a candidate for major office only if that candidate’s views on abortion match their own, according to the recent Gallup poll."

Why the quotes around pro-choice and pro-life? Is that no longer the terms you want to use, because they don't provoke reactions by the readers? Isn't that what you were accusing RTL of doing earlier in the piece?

"The president doubled down in his most recent State of the Union address, portraying Democratic legislation in New York as allowing a baby “to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth.” "

This is technically accurate, so I don't understand why you would take issue with it.

"As the political divide deepens, Right to Life of Michigan and Planned Parenthood have increasingly relied on super PAC money to influence Lansing. Unlike traditional political action committees, super PACs can accept money from corporations, including nonprofit corporations that can raise money from donors who don’t have to be identified under Michigan campaign finance law."

Just on a side note, non-profits who take money from the government shouldn't allowed to do this.

"Trump’s successful nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court last year has prompted speculation that the court will soon overturn Roe v. Wade. The court’s rightward shift has prompted a number of conservative state legislatures to pass highly restrictive abortion laws, including outright bans, in a bid to get Roe’s central holding back before the justices. "

Rightward shift? Kavanaugh replaced Kennedy, who was appointed by a Republican.

The fact of the matter is that you can tell exactly where the authors of this piece stand, and if you're going to be "unbiased," you shouldn't be able to tell.

David Zeman
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 12:48pm

GP for Life, I am happy to address your main criticisms of the abortion article. 

The topic is a minefield with great opportunity to inadvertently fall into language that is unintentionally nonneutral or biased, which is why we anguish over the words and terminology used to describe positions on both sides in these articles. 

As a general matter, Bridge follows the suggestions of the Associated Press style guide on abortion, which uses the term "abortion rights" rather than "pro-choice" to describe one side of the debate, and "anti-abortion" rather than "pro-life" on the other. Neither of these wordings are perfect, and indeed that AP guide has been criticized on this point by some, but we find these phrases to be better than other alternatives and the closest thing to neutral that we could find. 

That said, we certainly don't shy away from using pro-choice and pro-life in the quotes used by partisans in our stories, we just don't use them when we can avoid it in our own descriptions. The reason why we used both terms in quotes in the section you complained of is because those were the terms used in the polling questions to respondents that we were citing. So we wanted to be as transparent as possible about how the questions were worded that produced the resulting responses. 

Addressing some of your other concerns: We are comfortable with stating that the Roe legalized abortion across the U.S., which had the effect of nullifying bans on abortion in states such as Michigan. We are also comfortable with the description of a largly anti-abortion legislature, given the majority votes backing a slew of restrictions on abortion access in Michigan over the decades, as chronicled throughout the article. I assume your comment that President Trump's statement was not inflammatory/partisan was not serious. Finally, we also feel comfortable with describing the last few Supreme Court appointments as reflecting a rightward shift in the court, as that does not appear to be in serious dispute anywhere.

Thanks for writing and for reading Bridge. You may not agree with the above rationales, but you and other readers deserve to know as much as possible about how we make the decisions we do. 

David Zeman, Bridge Editor  

 

 

 

 

 

Bones
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 12:56pm

This was far kinder a response than GP deserves. He's a sociopath from Gross Pointe who has never made a good faith arguments in all his years of plaguing comment sections

GP For Life
Fri, 09/13/2019 - 11:50am

Mr. Zeman:

Thank you for your thoughtful, if dismissive, reply. I could gather what you were comfortable with by the fact you have published this, however, I appreciate you explicitly stating what was implicitly clear.

Also, I was not joking with regard to Trump's statements regarding late-term abortion. In fact, it's medical necessity to remove the fetus/baby from the mother, lest it fester inside the uterus. So, yeah, it's technically correct.

For clarification purposes, I am very much pro choice, I just don't like gaslighting and astroturfing. This is especially true with regard to media outlets.

Again, I thank you for your reply and wish you and yours the best.

Warm regards,

GP For Life

Susan Morrel-Samuels
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 9:33am

This appears to be an error:
which Planned Parenthood calls “dismemberment abortion.”

David Zeman
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 9:59am

Susan, thank you so much for spotting that and bringing to our attention. It has been fixed. 

Pete
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 9:45am

"If RTL gathers enough signatures to put it on the November 2020 ballot, the Legislature has the option to approve the measure on its own rather than waiting for voters to weigh in. Significantly in Michigan, the Legislature’s passage of a citizens petition means the governor cannot veto the law. "

Can we get further explanation of this? What would it take to get this changed? Access to be placed on a ballot doesn't signal widespread support - how is this setup where just merely getting enough zealots to approve the chance of something to be voted on can be automatically made into law? It would make sense that it could signal to the legislature to draft a ln equivalent bill, but I would expect that then to go through the normal legislative process.

Why is Michigan so backwards? This article is depressing...

Mike
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 2:33pm

Pete - remember the Sick Leave proposal that the legislature adopted and amended last year? It's that process, only probably without amending it this time.

Incidentally - and this is a general aside that I'm posing to everyone - if memory serves, isn't that process also currently being challenged by Dana Nessel in court? I haven't heard that that had yet been resolved, and I doubt that that would be something that just flies under the radar.

Jonah 4
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 10:43am

Always remember that Right to Life is anti women's rights to their own health and anti child. Once a child is born, Right to Life could not give one hoot about that child or mother. Have you ever heard Right to Life fighting for health care, food and shelter for children. No! They disappear into the woodwork are just interested in the fetus and once the child is here, they don't give one hoot. And the Senators and House members they support are equally absent once the child is born.

Matt
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 5:52pm

Clearly you know nothing aboutRTL and are just spewing leftist propaganda. I'd suggest you check them out.
And I'm not all that anti-abortion ..., In fact Democrats should have them as often and whenever possible!

johnchas
Fri, 09/13/2019 - 5:49pm

So Matt your advocating that Democrats should be encouraged to have abortions? Isn't that a direct contradiction of Right to Life's policy on the value of every fetus from conception to birth? So you are advocating what Right to Life considers murder for political reasons? Or is that because so many Democrats are minorities and like good conservatives everywhere your desiring a decrease in their birth rates. I'm not sure how this expresses the values that moralistic conservatives claim are motivating their desire to control the reproductive choices of women in general. Perhaps its just a Freudian slip or tongue in cheek? Either way it does undermine the conceit that that the anti abortion folks are advocating for life instead of domination and control. I am surprised that your comment made it past review since it was pretty obnoxious and did little to add to the discussion, but then such nonsense rarely does.

Matt
Sun, 09/15/2019 - 4:28pm

Johnchas wasn't this, eugenics, the stated position and motivation of Margret Sanger, birth control and abortion to control the populations of lower echelons of society? Yah ... kind of was! Nor would I t be so racist to imply that something as individual such as morals or political persuasion or economics would characterize a racial group as you imply. But Moralism aside, and I can claim not to ever have supported RtL other than pointing out unfair criticism. But leaving these, isn't abortion is just an operation such as removing a tumor, why wouldn't wouldn't one wish one wish those who want to participate, do so as often as possible? Especially when such an operation is their loudly stated preference? Why would this be different?

Bones
Tue, 09/17/2019 - 11:38am

Eugenics was forced on individuals by a racist government; abortion is the choice of the woman. Stop being disingenuous for literally a single instance in your life

LH
Tue, 09/17/2019 - 2:58pm

It really disturbs me when abortion is defined as solely "a woman's choice." First of all, the child (I don't care what week of gestation we are talking about, it is a child) has absolutely no rights or say in the matter. Second, there is another parent involved, and despite the rhetoric about rape and incest, many fathers would like to have some input regarding the life they helped create, intentionally or not. The pro-choice side loves to point fingers at the pro-life side and say we don't care about the child once it is born, but there is plenty of hypocrisy to go around, The same people who go on and on about a woman's "right to choose" recoil in horror when they hear of a parent or grandparent who killed, abused, or neglected a child. How does that child suddenly have value once it is born, but none when it is still in the womb? And in the case of some (mostly liberal) folks, how is the pain felt by a cow or chicken or a lab animal of more significance than what is conveniently called a "fetus"?

Karen
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 10:46am

As children at the border are forcibly removed from their parents, imprisoned and many, shipped to Mi. to be processed through Bethany Christian Services, owned by Betsy Devos, making her tons of money, and school lunch money and food stamps are scaled back to the bone, so called "right to life" advocates still insist on babies being brought into this cruel world where they are suffering as never before, often without housing or decent jobs. The height of hypocrisy in their assertion that they care about the children. They clearly do not.

Kevin Grand
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 1:22pm

And exactly whay makes you so certain that those children are taken away from their actual biological parents, Karen?

When CBP ran a small pilot program several months ago to do a DNA check on those illegal aliens and their "children", 30 percent of those confessed on the spot the children were not actually theirs.

So, unless you support child trafficing, you might want to re-think your flawed premise.

Bones
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 2:07pm

Unless you're convinced that the other 70% are *also* lying about their parentage, you're still a sociopath eagerly dismissing the gross violations of human rights at the border. Also, super cool of you to be consistent with your libertarian beliefs by *checks notes* supporting restrictions on freedom of movement across arbitrary political boundaries. Just give it up and admit you're an embarrassed fascist

Kevin Grand
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 8:25pm

Unlike you, Bones, I'd prefer that 100% of the children be with their biological parents.

And since when did it become a "violation" of human rights because you were detained for willfully ignoring the laws of a sovereign nation?

Just try sneaking into the country that they cross over from and see how well THEIR legal system treats you?

A nation without borders is not actually a nation at all.

Bones
Tue, 09/17/2019 - 11:41am

You don't care about these kids at all. You're transparent and disgusting.

You're also a hypocrite, peddling libertaran trash while cheering for the inherently authoritarian institution of guarded borders. No shock, you people are just embarrassed fascists

Hypocrites
Fri, 09/13/2019 - 10:02am

Trump’s Child Detention Camps Cost $775 Per Person Every Day

The daily cost for a child in a detention camp is more than a stay in a deluxe room at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
By Luke Darby
June 25, 2019
migrant child behind a gate
Alfredo Estrella/Getty Images

The Trump administration has been holding migrant children—whether they came to the U.S. alone or were forcibly separated from their guardians—in a network of makeshift tent camps since last summer. An unnamed official at the Department of Health and Human Services told NBC News that housing costs $775 per child per day.

That's more than a $675 deluxe guest room at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. (The average U.S. hotel room costs $129.)

Maintenance reportedly eats up most of the $775 daily cost per child for the tent camps, since it's difficult to keep temporary structures suitable for humans in a desert. In permanent facilities run by Health and Human Services, the cost is $256 per person per night, and NBC News estimates that even keeping children with their parents and guardians in Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities would only cost $298 per night.

Money is no concern to GOP fiscal conservatives when it flows from tax payers to friends of Benedict Donald.

Mary Fox
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 11:15am

Pro child and pro choice ... perfectly synonymous in my view. Like minded citizens may need to become more vocal / visible in speaking up ... but it feels exhausting.

water2Wine
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 12:10pm

Abortion is not government business, it is private family business. China uses it as a part of their government to limit the number of females in their country. Take heed.

Don
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 12:53pm

Why do these right wing church going NUTs care about the un Born BUT the min. the child is born they can go to hell your on your own!!!!??????

Bones
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 1:16pm

Because its always been about control (on the part of the religious authoritarians) and sustaining a perpetual underclass of impoverished people who can be easily exploited (on the part of the capitalists and business interests)

Matt
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 5:41pm

You know Bones, I saw recently they think they've narrowed down the genes for both homosexually and already have for many mental illness. Given this how many parents won't choose a do over, kind of like Downs Syndrome kids? Or would that be not allowed?

Bones
Tue, 09/17/2019 - 11:44am

I like the way you've conflated homosexuality with mental illness. Just another cool deflection on behalf of the fascist

Ken Darga
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 2:22pm

The decision to use the term “dismemberment abortion” rather than “dilation and evacuation” is more than just a strategic rhetorical choice. The proposal would not ban dilation; it would not ban evacuation; and (despite what many opponents and proponents think) it would not ban D&E abortions. If you read the definition of dismemberment abortion in the legislation, you will find that what it would actually ban is dismemberment of a "living fetus." Abortionists would need to kill the late-term fetus in a less painful way--e.g. transection of the umbilical cord--rather than dismembering it while it is still alive. The proposal will not reduce the number of abortions, but it will reduce the pain experienced by the babies that are aborted.

Michael S.
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 8:46pm

It's hard for me to take this piece seriously when it doesn't mention Doe v. Bolton. So many so-called journalists have never even heard of the decision from 1973.

Marlene
Thu, 09/12/2019 - 8:58pm

Those who oppose dismemberment abortion ( a term that describes the procedure more accurately than the medical euphemism) are pro life, not anti abortion. That procedure wouldn’t be allowed to remove a puppy from the female dogs uterus because it causes pain. As a doctor, I know what I’m asserting.

Subee
Fri, 09/13/2019 - 11:00am

Well, Marlene, since you know what you are asserting, then you must know that the fetal nervous system does not develop pain fibers until around 19 weeks of gestation. I would be comfortable with giving or taking a week with the 19 week figure. Until the type of fibers which transmit sensation are formed, the fetus can't perceive pain. But I can assure you that the children who present in neglect and abuse cases in family court certainly feel a LOT of pain. And we have a critical shortage of foster homes. I had one kid in a juvenile detension center (locked up) for nine months before we could find a foster home for him. This is the reality of what happens when unwanted or just unlucky kids are born and are physically and emotionally battered by their parents. Now, should abortion be used as a method of birth control like in the former Soviet Union? Absolutely not and what a waste of our legislators' time proposing such a stupid law so they won't have to deal with the
tougher issues. If you make abortion an illegal procedure, we will just go back to the 60's and 70's where DIY at home made for many admission to the GYN floors in hospitals because of infections and perforations. Do we want to live in a country where parents of anacephalic (look it up) babies would be forced to carry them to term? Do we want 11 and 12 year olds forced to carry a pregnancy to term?
And on top of that, imprison a sympathetic doctor who performed those procedures! I don't believe ANY medical staff member should be forced to participate in an abortion even though I felt forced to participate in many cruel and painful procedures on the elderly just go get them re-admitted to their nursing home beds. People capable of making reasonable decisions would not force every single pregnant person to carry a child to term. We will come up with a method of abortion that would be painless to a fetus who has hit the 18 week old mark. So if causing fetal pain is a major concern of anti-abortionists would you feel so opposed if that variable were removed from the picture. I simply don't put anyone on a moral dais who hasn't adopted for fostered an abused kid. Just because you live a nice middle-class life doesn't mean that everyone else does. We don't see the people amongst us who live in garages, fire-trap shacks and have no health care. But they are out there in the thousands . Please, Marlene, can you offer another solution to break the cycle of drugs, extreme poverty (not the genteel poverty you might be thinking of), and crime? Of course abortion is not THE answer but it certainly can reduce the amount of heartache in this world. Remember, when you outlaw it for all, it won't be available for you or your daughter who is carrying a fetus who has a condition incompatible with life.

Hypocrites
Fri, 09/13/2019 - 9:50am

It's not that they are Pro Life. They are Pro Rape and Incest because the same people are always quick to say that the crimes were consensual and blame the victim. "She dressed proactively. You can't expect a man to not to rape her."