A union of political and religious conservatives is organizing a petition drive in Michigan. They want to ban abortion after a medical professional locates a fetal heartbeat. Admittedly, their attempts resemble those of other GOP members in a number of states. And this could all lead to a Supreme Court challenge. At the moment, Michigan has a comprehensive abortion ban, but it is unenforceable. So the new proposition would go as far as to outlaw the very act of carrying out an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
Usually, this is when physicians detect a fetal heartbeat. If they were to perform it, then the state would punish them with prison time. And Corey Shankleton, who wanted Ohio to enforce a similar law, is currently the president of the Michigan Heartbeat Coalition. He clarified that an abortion would be prohibited the moment a heartbeat was discovered.
Organizers are resorting to a petition drive because they want to avoid Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s veto. She is a Democratic member who has promised to decline any anti-abortion bill that is placed in front of her. So, their aim is to have the Republican-led Legislature approve the proposal instead of waiting for the 2020 ballot when voters would decide.
The Michigan Heartbeat Coalition submitted the petition on Tuesday to the Bureau of Elections. This particular group is not in coalition with Right to Life. The latter plans to file a different petition drive. With it, they intend to prohibit a standard abortion procedure — dilation and evacuation — that takes place in the second trimester. However, Whitmer pledged to veto an almost identical dilation and evacuation ban legislation. The House and Senate accepted this one only last week.
What’s more, Governor of Michigan made her view clear in an interview with MSNBC on Monday. She said that politicians made these decisions in a similar fashion. Namely, a group of men would sit down around a table and ultimately decide what a woman could or couldn’t do with her body. At the same time, they would determine women’s rights, including their right to health care.
How this Ban Goes against a Landmark Decision
This law would breach the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade from 1973. According to it, the Justices voted to disallow abortion bans and provide women with the constitutional right to do it all over the U.S. The highest court has given the green light to some restrictions on this practice. However, GOP activists and lawmakers aspire to get the Supreme Court to revisit this problem. Especially because of Donald Trump’s recent conservative appointments.
In a new interview, Shankleton stated that they succeeded in shedding light on the pro-life moment. He believes that people know that it is only a matter of days when Roe v. Wade will be overturned. Alternatively, the court could adjust it or perceive it differently.
Shankleton maintains that Michigan has one of the most powerful abortion bans in the United States. But he fears that the state will not be safe in case they do not get Roe v. Wade annulled. Also, he worries that the Justices might change the mark to some other standard.
Furthermore, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel believes that Roe v. Wade could get reversed as well. Nevertheless, this Democrat would never prosecute a physician or a woman who has reached the heart-wrenching decision to end her pregnancy.
The Course of Events
The attempts of the Michigan pro-life movement come only one week after the Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey approved the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S. This one is set to prohibit all abortions, regardless of whether a doctor detects a heartbeat or not, just as long the mother’s health is not at risk.
In addition, Georgia joined three other states when it forbade abortion at six weeks of pregnancy. These states accepted a policy which relied on the earliest point of gestation. This is a period of pregnancy during which one can find a fetal heartbeat. Politicians approved similar bills in Kentucky, Ohio, Mississippi, Iowa, and North Dakota.
Birds of a Feather Do Not Flock Together
The Heartbeat Coalition and Right to Life are not cooperating. According to its legislative director Genevieve Marnon, the former’s leadership is out of state. She said that they were not in favor of a heartbeat ban in Michigan. Namely, the laws of this state already prohibit abortion. In point of fact, the abortion ban has been in effect since 1846. There is also a 1931 version which the state might reactivate in case the highest court reverses Roe v. Wade.
Moreover, Bill Bolin, who is a pastor at Floodgate Renewal Fellowship church, disagreed with the portrayal of his group. He noted that the members of the Michigan Heartbeat Coalition were all state residents. The board is comprised of himself, Rick Warzywak, Mark Gurley, and Shankleton. They will start gathering signatures once the Board of State Canvassers accepts their petition. Also, this board will assemble on Thursday, but they are yet to discuss the petition.
The organizers submitted this anti-abortion petition to the state at the same time when Planned Parenthood led many “Stop the Bans” marches all over the state. They even went outside the Michigan Capitol. Lori Carpentier, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, said that the two planned proposals were part of an unconstitutional and harmful movement to prohibit abortions.
In a released statement, she voiced her opinion that both of these had the same goals. Namely, they want to ban abortion in Michigan and, at the same time, ensure that the residents do not have any say in the decision.
The Plan of the Initiatives
Under the Michigan heartbeat petition proposal, a doctor who decides to perform an abortion after detecting a fetal heartbeat could end up in prison for two years. This initiative has some exceptions when women’s health is in mind. And it explains that a pregnant woman would not be prosecuted. As per Shankelton’s belief, women are the second victims of abortion.
Additionally, the group maintains that their supporters are Jim Hines (former gubernatorial candidate), Dave Agema (former Republican National Committeeman), Keith Den Hollander (national field director for the Christian Coalition), and Scott Hagerstrom (former state Trump campaign director).
Also, Shankelton stated that they would rely on petition signature collectors. From the day they start, they will need to gather 340,047 signatures in 180 days. And the signature requirement increased by about 36%. The main reason being a high voter turnout last year. The states adjust the threshold every four years in order to measure up to 8% of the total votes.
Last year, lawmakers in the state of Michigan changed the rules for petitions. To be specific, they limited the amount of signatures organizations could collect in a district. So the limit is now at 15%. Lastly, Nessel is in the process of reviewing this new rule. Everyone thinks she will make her opinion public this week.