GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As tens of thousands took to the streets in Washington, D.C., for the March for Life on Friday, activists in Michigan said they were continuing their push to limit abortion in the state.
Michigan Right to Life is pushing to outlaw the most common “late-term” abortions, while a separate group, Michigan Heartbeat Coalition, wants to make abortions illegal once a fetal heartbeat is detected.
“It’s all a matter of what law can you get that you can actually enforce and what lives you can save,” Michigan Right to Life spokesman Chris Gast told News 8.
The state Board of Elections said it is reviewing the nearly 380,000 petition signatures submitted in December by Michigan Values Life, which was organized by Right to Life and has the support of the Michigan Catholic Conference.
The proposal would outlaw dilation and evacuation abortions unless a mother’s life is at risk.
“It’s to ban the most common late-term abortion procedure in the state,” Gast said.
The D&E abortions usually happen in the second trimester. They make up about 7% of abortions in Michigan.
Both the Republican-controlled state House and Senate passed the D&E bill last year, but Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer blocked it with a veto.
If the state validates 340,000 signatures, the D&E proposal could go directly to the House and Senate and under state law, the governor would not be allowed to veto it. It would automatically become law.
“It is an end-run because of our unique situation where the people can initiate legislation and then our elected representatives can pass it into law,” Gast said. “In the past, we’ve called it the people’s override.”
Belmont-based Michigan Heartbeat Coalitions says Right to Life doesn’t go far enough.
“We don’t believe in incrementalism,” coalition board member Rick Warzywak said. “We want to go for the jugular vein, Roe v. Wade, and take down abortion.”
The Heartbeat Coalition’s petition drive is for a ban on abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected — a bill that went nowhere last year.
“A heartbeat detected is a baby protected,” Warzywak said.
The coalition, without the support of Michigan Right to Life, has collected only about half the 340,000 signatures needed to move forward. It has extended its deadline until the end of February.
“We’re going to continue on with this,” Warzywak said.
In either case, if there are enough signatures and the House and Senate don’t act on the bills proposed in the petitions, the issues would go to voters.
In 2018, there were nearly 27,000 abortions in Michigan, down from 49,000 in 1987.