Pro-lifers: State ban a victory (Livingston Daily)

Published October 13, 2011, on

Written by Christopher Behnan, Daily Press & Argus

Livingston Daily



Published: 10.13.11| Updated: 10.13.11

A new state ban on partial birth abortion will provide a law to fall back on in case the federal ban on the procedure is ever repealed, Livingston County-based anti-abortion organizations said.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed the state ban into law Tuesday. Livingston pro-life groups are calling that a victory.

The laws define partial birth abortion as an abortion in which a living fetus is partially delivered and terminated in some manner.

"We're happy today," said Joan Hutchison, director of Genoa Township-based Pregnancy Help Line.

"We did not have that in place here. That partial birth abortion would be banned. If the federal law fails for any reason, then the states could fall back on their own law rather than having to go out and push for it," she added.

She said the laws ensure that the "horrendous torture" of partial birth abortion is outlawed in Michigan. Hutchison didn't have statistics on how many partial birth abortions are performed in Michigan, but she said she knows they are occurring based on communications with clients.

"It's a good step ahead," she said.

Snyder's signature of the ban goes against the governor's promise to make jobs the "No. 1 job" during his tenure, said Sarah Scranton, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan.

"We were disappointed to see the Legislature take this up and to see Gov. Snyder sign it in a time when our state is hurting so bad economically and the people here are really concerned whether paychecks are coming, whether their students are going to have a quality education, whether they can put food on the table," Scranton said.

"It sends a message that politicians, not doctors, know what's best for women, and I think we can all agree doctors know what's best for women, not politicians," she added.

The new state laws, Public Acts 168-169 of 2011, mirror a 2003 federal ban on the procedure upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007.

Also in 2003, state lawmakers approved a separate partial birth abortion ban, but it was vetoed by former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. A year later, Michigan voters approved an initiative to ban the procedure, but the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the ban unconstitutional and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the decision.

State lawmakers again approved a ban in 2008 but it, too, was vetoed again by Granholm.

Pinckney Pro-Life, a youth-based anti-abortion group founded in 2001, supports any measures that protect the lives of the unborn, Director Kathy Hastings said.

Despite the redundancy of the federal law, any effort to protect the life of women and unborn babies is a "victory," Hastings said.

"I think it just reaffirms the stance in Michigan that the people in Michigan are for life and against the taking of innocent lives, so it's a reaffirmation," she said.

Scranton said bans on partial birth abortion have been challenged because they have never specified the length of time into a pregnancy that would constitute a violation.

She said the term isn't recognized by the medical community, but rather is a term crafted by the anti-abortion movement.

"You will not find it any medical book. You will not find it in any medical school. What this is trying to do is take a page out of the anti-choice side to ban abortion in general and chip away at every angle they can," Scranton said.

The laws carry an exemption for situations in which physicians determine a late-term abortion is necessary to save the mother's life.

State Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg Township, and state Reps. Cindy Denby, R-Handy Township, and Bill Rogers, R-Genoa Township, voted in favor of the ban.

Those convicted of carrying out the procedure are guilty of a felony and face up to two years in prison, a fine up to $50,000, or both. A woman who undergoes the procedure will not face criminal charges, however.

The ban takes effect Jan. 1.

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