Michigan Bank Boycott Focused on Board Member’s Abortion Stance

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 5, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Michigan Bank Boycott Focused on Board Member’s Abortion Stance

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
August 5, 2004

Ann Arbor, MI (LifeNews.com) — A pro-life boycott of a local bank ended last week after bank officials clarified that by adding a pro-abortion state senator to their board of directors they were not endorsing her pro-abortion stance.

Andrew Shirvell, a student at Ave Maria School of Law, called for the boycott after a March 15 press release by University Bank announced that Chairman Stephen Lange Ranzini was "honored" to have Democratic state Senator Alma Wheeler-Smith join the board.

Shirvell noted that the release also stated that "Alma was honored to have her comments from a Senate floor speech included in a Michigan amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court successfully arguing against the so-called partial birth abortion laws."

Believing that bank officials were endorsing Wheeler-Smith and her pro-abortion stance, Shirvell announced a boycott of the bank on April 1.

While Shirvell’s petitions and local publicity efforts resulted in only one account closure, Ranzini told American Banker that he did not want to offend Ann Arbor’s conservative Catholic community. Ranzini himself is a member of Legatus, a national organization of Catholic CEOs.

On July 27, University Bank issued a new press release stating that "University Bank does not specifically endorse Ms. Smith’s advocacy of partial-birth abortion."

The release also admitted that the March 15 release "could have been better worded so as to reflect the fact that the University Bank is not in favor of partial-birth abortion," and apologized for the confusion.

Shirvell immediately ended the boycott. Citing Ranzini’s personal communications with him promising to add a pro-life member to the bank’s board of directors, and a donation Ranzini made to a pro-life candidate in a local political race, Shirvell encouraged patronage of University Bank.

"Mr. Ranzini’s recent actions have demonstrated that he has changed his philosophy and is now willing to take his personal pro-life viewpoints into the public arena," said Shirvell.

"Mr. Ranzini has particularly demonstrated courage by issuing his new national press release exactly one week before radical pro-abort Alma Wheeler-Smith faces judgment from voters in the Democratic Primary."

Despite the press release, Wheeler-Smith won Tuesday’s primary, and will face Republican Jason Myers in the November general election. Wheeler-Smith and her son, Conan Smith who ran for county commissioner, have been publicly criticized by Shirvell.

While the candidate’s pro-abortion stance was not mentioned in fliers Shirvell distributed, Wheeler-Smith told the Ann Arbor News that his efforts were directed against them because they were pro-abortion Catholics, and that she would consider legal action against him since he did not put his name on the circulars.

Shirvell is not intimidated by the threat of a lawsuit.

"If they want to sue me, fine," Shirvell said. "The real issue is that they’re sweating bullets because they know they’re in close races and they’re afraid that the pro-life voters can mobilize their base to make them lose."