Recently, Lutherans for Life of Michigan president Rev. Paul Clark wrote a brief article for this blog here notifying readers that the petition to ban the mid-to-late term abortive procedure of Dilation and Evacuation has failed. This article will offer a slightly longer version, explaining certain legislative quirks and details that led to the petition’s demise.
Summer, 2019 — Right to Life of Michigan mobilizes its organization with a petition to end the abortive procedure of Dilation and Evacuation. This procedure, performed after the baby is too large to be birthed, uses forceps and vacuum aspiration to cut off the baby’s limbs. The child then bleeds out, dies, and is removed piece by piece. More details about the procedure can be found at rtl.org.
Summer, 2019 — Michigan Heartbeat Coalition offers a petition that would ban abortions after cardiac activity is detected in a fetus. The petition drew criticism from Right to Life, who claims it would be in danger of superseding MCL 750.14, an 1846 law that bans all abortions in Michigan. Were Roe vs. Wade to be overturned, Michigan law would revert to the 1846 law. Were there a heartbeat law in place, the primacy of either of those competing laws would be at the mercy of whatever judge happened to take the case. I wrote about this confusion here.
December, 2019 — Right to Life submits 379,418 signatures to the Michigan Bureau of Elections. Although they received over 400,000 signatures, they vetted each petition to verify that the signatures were valid. 340,047 are needed to move forward. The petition is now in the hands of the Bureau of Elections, which is under the authority of the Secretary of State.
January – April, 2020 — The Bureau of Elections does nothing with the petition, largely due to the pandemic.
May, 2020 — The Bureau of Elections continues their vetting process on the petition. 500 signatures are drawn as a random sample to determine the validity of the signatures. If more than 465 of the 500 signatures are valid, the petition is certified. If 449-464 are valid, more samples are examined. If fewer than 448 are valid, the petition is declined.
June, 2020 — Planned Parenthood challenges the Bureau’s review via the Coalition to Protect Access to Care. If a signature is duplicated, misdated, or includes any other errors in any way, the signature is thrown out. Thousands of valid signatures are thrown out because of “damage” to the paper.
June, 2020 — The Board of Canvassers, under the Bureau of Elections, determines that the petition does not have enough valid signatures from the sample. However, Right to Life challenges their findings and the Board of Canvassers agrees to pull another sample—a process normally unheard of, but determined to be reasonable by the bi-partisan board due to the narrow margin.
July, 2020 — Planned Parenthood challenges the second sample. The sample fails a second time.
July, 2020 — Right to Life does not challenge the challenge of the challenged-challenge, and the current petition dies. As far as I can tell, the Heartbeat Coalition did not obtain its necessary signatures by its deadline, and their website has not been updated since 2019.
So … is that it? Hardly. Right to Life continues to work hard for all sorts of legislative measures. Their educational efforts are effective, and their opportunities to serve are many. This was a difficult petition because of the competing bill, an increase in requirements, and all the administrative folderol that came with the virus. I would not be surprised if another ballot petition identical to this one is mobilized in the next election cycle. I certainly hope so.
As our attention turns to election day, see this and this for what churches can and cannot do politically. You can also encourage your people to check out the candidates’ platforms on their local ballot, as well as visit Right to Life of Michigan for more resources.
May God continue to grant us forgiveness for Jesus’ sake, and may we all do better to save the lives of the unborn.
Photo (c) sqback/iStock