The fact that the amendment does not define the age of an individual means its provisions “could apply to children as well as adults,” Citizens to Support MI Women and Children said. “If someone convinces a child to be sterilized, the parents have no say,” said the group.
The amendment could affect informed consent for women seeking abortion, and screening for cases where women are being coerced into abortion, as currently required by state law. It could affect requirements that only doctors perform abortions, and it could mean health insurance coverage must automatically cover elective abortions.
According to the group’s analysis, the “mental health” exception for late-term abortion bans would allow late-term abortion for any reason. As written, the amendment would allow any attending health care professional, not only medical doctors, to decide whether an abortion is medically indicated to protect a pregnant mother’s life or physical or mental health.
The amendment’s language protecting autonomy could strike down bans on human cloning, the pro-life coalition said, “since cloning oneself is an autonomous pregnancy decision.” Similarly, the buying and selling of babies through commercial surrogacy could be legalized, and the proposed amendment could make it impossible to impose health or safety regulations on the fertility industry.
As of May 4, state records indicate the Reproductive Freedom for All committee has raised over $1.4 million in cash and $500,000 in in-kind contributions. As of April, the pro-life committee had received only $103,000 in contributions.
The effort to gather signatures for the pro-abortion rights amendment has run into obstacles: Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers in early February rejected the coalition’s petition form for failing to meet state requirements, and again rejected the petition form in March, delaying the ability to collect valid signatures from supporters.
Michigan’s existing abortion law, dating to 1931, criminalizes abortion as a felony, except to save the life of the mother. In a 1972 ballot measure, 60% of Michigan voters rejected a proposal to allow abortion up to 20 weeks into pregnancy. In 1997, the Michigan Court of Appeals found that there is no right to abortion in the state constitution.
The state law has not been enforced since the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade mandated that all states legalize abortion. However, abortion advocates have filed legal challenges to the law in the event that Supreme Court precedents are overturned in a decision expected in the next two months.
On May 17, Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth L. Gleichner issued a temporary injunction against enforcement of the long-standing law, contending that the right to abortion is almost certainly protected under the state’s due process provisions protecting bodily integrity.
On May 20, the Michigan Catholic Conference and Michigan Right to Life, represented by Bursch, filed a complaint asking the Michigan Court of Appeals to intervene. They asked the court to issue an order of superintending control over Gleichner and either take over the case or require the judge, who previously represented Planned Parenthood in a failed challenge to precedent upholding the state abortion law, to recuse herself.
Whitmer has filed her own lawsuit, which asks the Michigan Supreme Court “to recognize a constitutional right to an abortion under the Due Process Clause of the Michigan Constitution.”
(Story continues below)
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Long, the president of the Michigan Catholic Conference, reiterated the need to defend Michigan’s laws against abortion.
“In the courtroom and at the ballot box, human life in Michigan is being threatened by the most extremist abortion advocates this state has witnessed,” he said. “Together with our coalition partners, we vow to work with diligence – guided by prayer – to uphold the sanctity of life in Michigan and to ensure every vulnerable mother has access to the support and compassion she needs to care for herself and her child.”