Michigan Pro-Lifers Craft Strategy to Override Ganholm’s Abortion Ban Veto
by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
October 23, 2003
Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — Michigan Pro-Life groups are entrenched in the struggle to override Governor Jennifer Granholm’s veto of the Legal Birth Definition Act — a difficult but far from impossible task.
After SB 395 was passed in both the state House (74-28) and the Senate (25-11), Granholm vetoed the legislation on October 10, stating that it did not have clear enough provisions for the health of the mother.
The House’s original vote had the 2/3 majority supporting the legislation necessary to override the veto, but the Senate was one vote short. However, if Democratic Sen. Virg Bernero is elected mayor of Lansing in the Nov. 4 election, he would step down from his seat and leave 37 Senators instead of 38 – and the 25 supporting votes would be enough to override the veto.
The state’s constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the legislative body to override a veto. The Senate will be the first to attempt the veto, as the legislation originated there. The votes to override the veto must be done by the end of the 2004 session.
Bernero is currently just slightly behind his opponent in the mayoral race, incumbent Tony Benavides. Also, even if Benero were to win the race, an override vote would have to take place before a special election to fill Benero’s senate seat.
Granholm has stated that she does not believe the legislature will have the votes to override her veto. Her administration has told Democratic lawmakers not to support any override measures.
Pro-Life groups in Michigan are appalled at Granholm’s actions.
"This veto is an insult to the overwhelming majority of Michigan citizens who find partial birth abortion repulsive and indefensible," Right to Life of Michigan’s President Barbara Listing said in a statement on the organization’s website. "Governor Granholm should have stood with and for the people in expressing a minimum sense of decency. No doubt she is beholden to the abortion supporters who gave her hundreds of thousands of dollars in last year’s campaign."
The RTL of MI statement pointed out the Granholm "parroted" pro-abortion extremists’ arguments against the bill, despite the explicit protections for the mother’s health contained in the bill. The organization also pointed out that Granholm used past federal court decisions striking down partial-birth abortion bans, despite the bill’s unique approach of defining a legal moment of birth, not expressly banning an abortion procedure.
"Democrats and Republicans alike in the Capitol supported this legislation and urged the governor to put this reasonable outer boundary on abortion," Listing concluded. "We will work tirelessly, despite this governor’s actions, to enact protection for these children whose lives are taken even as they become visible to our eyes."
If the veto attempt should fail, Michigan pro-life groups are prepared to initiate a citizen’s petition drive. If they can gather the 325,000 signatures necessary, the legislation will again be brought before the House and Senate. However, if the measure passes, it cannot be vetoed by the Governor, and would not need to be put to a ballot vote by the general public.
The Legal Birth Definition Act would grant unborn children the same rights as a child after birth, as soon as any part of the child was visible outside the mother. While it does not address a specific procedure, it would effectively ban partial-birth abortions and similar procedures.
The state of Michigan has failed twice prior, in 1996 and 1999, to declare partial-birth abortion bans constitutional. The language of SB 395 was designed to pass the judicial tests.
While the US House and Senate recently sent a federal partial-birth abortion bill to President Bush to sign into law, the federal version differs from Michigan’s version in that it expressly bans the partial-birth abortion procedure.