by Steven Ertelt
April 13, 2006
Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — The directors of the Michigan Republican Party have unanimously voted in favor of backing a statewide petition drive that would qualify an abortion vote for the November ballot. It is backing an effort by Michigan Citizens for Life to allow state residents to vote on a measure that would legally define a person under state law as existing at the moment of conception.
The resolution backs the petition drive, which must collect 317,757 valid signatures of Michigan voters by early July to qualify for the ballot.
The Michigan GOP said it supports the proposal because the national party platform is pro-life. As a result, the state party said it "expresses support for the concept that life begins at conception and we encourage our members to consider supporting the Michigan Citizens for Life petition initiative."
Citizens for Life leader Cal Zastrow told the Associated Press the endorsement is a big help for the group’s campaign.
"It has tremendous impact," Zastrow said. "The Republican Party is staying true to its platform."
Meanwhile, AP reports that the Michigan Democratic Party has criticized the GOP resolution and the petition drive saying that it supports abortion. It said the Citizens for Life effort would try to prohibit abortions in cases of rape and incest.
The group is hoping to use the ballot initiative as a method of challenging the Roe v. Wade decision that toppled pro-life laws across the country in 1973.
Should the ballot proposal qualify and state voters approve it, abortion advocates have already pledged to take the measure to court and the ACLU has said it would lead the way.
The group has an uphill battle because the state’s largest pro-life organization is concentrating it’s limited resources on other key battles.
Right to Life of Michigan says its focused on the November elections, where pro-life advocates hope to unseat two top pro-abrotion lawmakers — Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
The group also told AP the petition is not needed — saying the state already has a law on the books that would prohibit abortions when Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Though the groups are not working on the same projects in 2006, representatives of both say they’re both pursuing the same pro-life goals of stopping abortions.
"Is there room for everybody? Absolutely," Pam Sherstad of Right to Life of Michigan told AP. "The more pro-life people, the better."
"They’re great people," Zastrow said of RLM. "They’re not on board right now, but that’s OK."
Thanks to pro-life legislation in the state, abortions there have been on the decline. In 2004, Michigan reported 26,269 abortions, a 46.5 percent decrease from a high in 1987 of 49,098.