SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: MICHIGAN NEVER HAD A PRE-ROE BAN ON ABORTION; MICHIGAN HAD A BAN ON ABORTION ON DEMAND PRE-ROE
Heartbeat vs. Dismemberment You would think that everyone in the Michigan pro-life community would be excited to see not one but two petitions that address their desire to stop abortions, but that is not the case, unfortunately.
Abortion is legal in Michigan. Abortion was legal in Michigan before Roe. It is abortion on demand that was not legal before Roe. We need to find ways to restrict as many abortions as possible. Michigan Statute allowed abortions in Michigan pre-Roe. The claim that Michigan didn’t allow abortion legally in Michigan is based on both bad understandings of law by pro-life advocates, and application of law according to a Michigan Appellate Court in a case brought against a man named Nixon. The Nixon ruling states that abortion has been legal in Michigan at least through the first trimester, possibly through the fourth or fifth month based on when the baby became “quickened.” A Quickened baby is a baby that can be felt moving in its mother’s womb.
Conflicting Pro-Life Options Michigan’s pro-life movement is being offered two separate Petitions that have been created by two different pro-life groups in Michigan. Once you see the purpose of each petition and its strength and weakness, I advise people to sign both petitions. Our fight isn’t against other pro-life groups. Our argument is against abortion on demand. The Petition that has been offered by Right to Life (RTL) is known as The Dismemberment Ban. The other petition has been presented by Michigan Heartbeat Coalition (MHC), and their petition is designed to introduce Heartbeat Legislation into the Michigan Penal Code. Heartbeat laws are sweeping the land with nine states passing Heartbeat Legislation. Up to twenty-five States have tried to pass Heartbeat laws so far, and there are many States like Michigan that are trying to pass Heartbeat laws or are trying to pass the legislation again after being defeated previously.
The strategy of Heartbeat nationwide is to place severe restrictions on abortion as an initial major step in challenging Roe v. Wade. This can only happen if we can get redress before the Supreme Court of the United States and present our grievances against abortion on demand and the fluidity of the determination of viability. If we can convince the SCOTUS that Heartbeat is an accurate marker of life and impose it as viability instead of the current nebulous standard of viability, we can see the vast majorities of abortions in America cease.
Propagating a Fear Driven Decision Opinion When There Is Nothing To Fear As much as I do not want to name names in the pro-life camp that has decided to fight Heartbeat, I feel compelled to do so, as the respective parties have not been silent, calling us wrong as a group and in some instances citing us individually. RTL and some Michigan pro-life advocates like Salt and Light International and CTV (Christians for Traditional Values) have been arguing that the Heartbeat Bill would be bad for Michigan. They are inciting fear whether intentional or not in the Michigan prolife community, a fear that Heartbeat will potentially harm pre-existing abortion restrictions and law. Those who have taken this position are arguing that Michigan possesses a pre-Roe ban on abortion except when a doctor needs to save the life of the mother. The opponents of Heartbeat are afraid that Heartbeat could jeopardize that law by repeal from a radical leftist judge who would say that Heartbeat is the most current law. Therefore, it would become Michigan’s new abortion law.
The propagation of fear that is driving RTL and the others is unfounded. Fear of the unknown and the undetermined future is never a good position to take, especially for people who are Christians. Christians make up most of the pro-life community. The pro-life community needs to be bold in our efforts to stop as many abortions as we can and to continue our fight to overturn Roe v. Wade. Join us as we fight the good fight for the unborn, becoming their voice and their advocate.
Is Right to Life’s claim that Heartbeat could stop any pre-Roe ban on abortion reasonable? The answer is no, but it is complicated to explain without getting into the weeds of legal implication, ruling and lawyerly wrangling, and I am not a lawyer. I do, however, hold a Doctorate along with other post-graduate degrees. The tools I received in the pursuit of Higher Education gave me valuable research tools, so let me attempt to answer the question based on the main case that some claim gives the pre-Roe ban on induced miscarriages to be used for the most significant restriction on abortion in Michigan.
The case is known as People v. Higuera. In it the Michigan Supreme Court made a statement, “repeals by implication are not favored and will not be indulged in if there is any other reasonable construct. The intent to repeal must very clearly appear, and courts will not hold to a repeal if they can find reasonable ground to hold the contrary.” That ruling means that if our Petition for Heartbeat has protective clauses that protect previous laws that are better or stronger, the new law cannot become the replacement law through the legal process of repeal. The Heartbeat Bill has not one, not two but three protection clauses written into it to protect previous bans or restrictions on abortion in Michigan.
In a nod to those who say we have a law that protects an unborn babies heartbeat already in Michigan, why do we need the Heartbeat law that MHC is proposing? I say we need the law but not in the way that our opponents would see a preexisting Heartbeat law. In yet another Michigan criminal case where a doctor had been convicted of performing an abortion, the Court used the language of the heartbeat in an unborn child whose heart is beating as a determination for viability. In this case, Larkin v Wayne Prosecutor, the language was created that could be taken to use the finding of the heartbeat as the point where life in the womb needs to be protected indisputably. The Court said, “We hold that the word child as used in MCLA 750.322; MSA 28.554, and MCLA 750.323; MSA 28.555, means a viable child in the womb of its mother; that is, an unborn child whose heart is beating, who is experiencing electronically measurable brain waves, who is discernably moving, and who is so far developed and matured as to be capable of surviving the trauma of birth with the *542 aid of the usual medical care and facilities available in the community.”
Here’s why Heartbeat is both good and right for Michigan Heartbeat will not preempt or replace any previous ban on abortion. Higuera’s ruling and Michigan’s long-standing record opposing appeal by implication prevents that from happening. So do the three protective clauses in the Heartbeat Petition. The Heartbeat Bill was not written by lawyers outside Michigan. It was written by Representative Steve Johnson and Senator Ed McBroom, their staff, legal counsel and technical drafters. Heartbeat possesses three protective clauses that protect any interpretations of pre-Roe bans on abortion, especially abortion on demand. By becoming a Heartbeat State, Michigan will unite with other Heartbeat States across the country seeking to overturn or restrict Roe v. Wade. Our joint efforts can rip the heart out of Roe and replace it with the Heartbeat language and constraints. If a standard Ultrasound is used, up to 65% of abortions will be stopped. If the Transvaginal Ultrasound is used, up to 95-97% of all abortions could be banned. As a nation, we could see a reduction from one million abortions a year to as low as 30-50,000 abortions a year. That’s why Heartbeat is both good and right for Michigan. Join us in our battle for the unborn. Together we can win!
Dr. Bill Bolin