Michigan Bill Not Affected by Partial-Birth Abortion Ruling, Group Says

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 7, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Michigan Bill Not Affected by Partial-Birth Abortion Ruling, Group Says

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
June 7, 2004

Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — Right to Life of Michigan, which recently concluded its petition drive to override Governor Jennifer Granholm’s veto of Michigan’s partial-birth abortion ban, said that last week’s ruling declaring the federal ban unconstitutional does not affect the Michigan legislation.

"It is important to note that the ruling from U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton has no impact on Michigan’s Legal Birth Definition Act," said Right to Life of Michigan in a statement. "Both the federal and state pieces of legislation have the same goal: banning partial birth abortions, but they take very different approaches.

"The federal legislation specifically bans an abortion procedure while the state legislation defines legal birth as when any non-severed part of a child is outside of the mother’s body. Once a person is legally born, that person is afforded all of the rights of legal personhood, thus making partial birth abortion equivalent to murder," explains Right to Life of Michigan.

As more than enough Michigan voters signed the petition, the legislation is now back in the state legislature, where a simple majority vote will put the law into effect, without giving pro-abortion Governor Granholm another chance to veto it.

Michigan’s Legal Birth Definition Act seeks to ban the partial-birth abortion procedure by defining a moment of birth as the time when any part of the baby is visible outside the mother.

A similar Virginia law was ruled unconstitutional in February, though pro-life attorneys from the Horatio R. Storer Foundation have submitted an amicus brief for the appellate court showing that the ruling ignored the language that met the Supreme Court’s requirements

James Bopp, Jr. explained that the Virginia law applies only to infants "born alive," and defines such a birth as when "the infant’s head is outside the body of the mother" or, in the case of a breech presentation, when "any part of the infant’s trunk past the navel is outside of the body of the mother."

"Virginia has made the judgment that when a fetus breaks the goal line to the extent defined in the Act it is entitled to the heightened protection," argues the Foundation in its brief, submitted to the Fourth Circuit Court of appeals.

"This child is sufficiently over the goal-line of personhood that it qualifies as a ‘human infant’ who is ‘born alive’ and the state has sufficient interests in protecting it from ‘infanticide’ to justify its life exception and absence of a health exception," Bopp added.

Last week U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton said the federal ban runs afoul of the 2000 Carhart vs. Stenberg Supreme Court decision that found a Nebraska partial-birth abortion ban unconstitutional because it lacked an exception to allow the disputed abortions to protect a woman’s health. Her ruling only affects the San Francisco area, and not the entire United States.

Two other federal trials regarding the ban are still underway. U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf in Nebraska is expected to issue his ruling in August.