- The Washington Times - Monday, December 23, 2019

Michigan pro-lifers submitted signatures Monday to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure, seeking to bypass the Democratic governor by placing a veto-proof measure before the Republican-controlled state legislature.

The Michigan Values Life coalition turned in 379,481 signatures for verification to the state Bureau of Elections, more than the 340,047 qualified signatures needed to bring the citizen-initiated legislation before the House and Senate.

“This is a wonderful Christmas present to the unborn. Michigan values life, and it’s time for an end to these violent late-term dismemberment abortions,” said Barbara Listing, president of Right to Life of Michigan.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vowed earlier this year to veto an identical bill banning dilation-and-evacuation (D&E) abortion procedures, known to critics as “dismemberment abortions,” but a citizen-initiated bill does not require the governor’s signature to become law if approved by both houses.

“That’s the beauty of our state Constitution,” said Genevieve Marnon, legislative director of Right to Life of Michigan. “If citizens initiate this legislation, she doesn’t get to veto it. It’s veto-proof.”

A second petition drive to place a fetal-heartbeat bill before the state legislature is also underway, with organizers planning to submit signatures on Jan. 22, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, while pro-choice advocates have blasted the use of the ballot “loophole.”

Michigan Planned Parenthood Advocates called the effort to ban D&E abortions, which involve pulling apart and removing a fetus using a surgical instrument, an “unconstitutional attack on the health and rights of Michiganders.”

“[E]very elected official who votes in favor of it will be held accountable by the people,” the MPPA tweeted. “Take action now and tell your elected officials to STAY OUT of the exam room.”

Pro-choice advocates may be fighting a losing battle, given that the Republican leadership has expressed support for the pro-life measures. The House and the Senate can vote on citizen-initiated legislation or send it to the state ballot 40 days after the petition signature threshold is verified.

“We’ve already passed dismemberment once, and I would fully anticipate that should we get the petition sent to us by the voters of our state that we will act in a way that we feel is best,” House Speaker Lee Chatfield told Michigan.live.

As for the fetal heartbeat measure, which would prohibit abortions after cardiac activity is detected, or about six weeks’ gestation, “that would be something that we would anticipate taking up should it be delivered to us as well,” he said.

In Michigan, the D&E process was used in 1,908, or 7%, of abortions last year, but half of second-trimester abortions and 80% of abortions after 16 weeks’ gestation.

Twelve states have passed bans on the D&E procedure, and 10 states are fighting court challenges. The American Civil Liberties Union has said it will plan to sue if the Michigan measure becomes law.

Pro-life advocates in Michigan feel good about their chances of having their signatures validated, given that they’ve successfully qualified four citizen-initiated bills in the past, more than any other state organization, said Ms. Marnon.

“There are pro-life majorities in both the House and the Senate. Slim majorities, but it only takes a simple majority,” she said.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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