Michigan Legislature Approves Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 21, 2011   |   4:29PM   |   Lansing, MI

The Michigan state House and Senate today both approved bills that would implement a state ban on partial-birth abortions and now the measures head to the governor.

Michigan could be the next state to ban partial-birth abortions following a Supreme Court decision in April 2007 upholding a federal ban on them. States are banning the abortions to allow local officials to assist federal authorities in enforcing the law and in case the federal law is ever repealed.

The legislature approved Senate Bills 160-161 and the bills would prohibit partial birth abortions (SB 160) and provide sentencing penalties for anyone convicted of violating the law (SB 161). Both measures received a 3-1 vote to move on to the next stage of the legislative process.

Senate Bill 160 passed the Senate 29-8 and House Bill 4109 passed the House 75-33. They now go to Republican Rick Snyder who plans to sign them into law.

Michigan Catholic Conference president Paul Long released a statement following passage:  “Banning partial-birth abortion in our state is the most common sense policy a civilized society could enact. There is no place in our state for those who seek to terminate the life of an unborn child partially delivered from his or her mother. Today Michigan should stand proud in following the lead of dozens of other states and the federal government by prohibiting this most heinous and gruesome practice.”

“With a 15 year struggle now behind us, and with legal and political obstacles having been removed, Michigan Catholic Conference looks forward to Governor Snyder signing the ban into law. It must not be overlooked that this legislation received broad support from both Democrats and Republicans. Their vote today in support of justice for the unborn deserves applause,” Long said.

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing declared the votes a victory for the people of Michigan.

“For more than 15 years Michigan citizens have used the democratic process to seek an end to this unspeakable abortion procedure. Despite prior versions of the law being struck down by courts or vetoed by a previous governor, the unwavering conviction of hundreds of thousands of citizens that partial birth abortion must be rejected led to this victory,” Listing said.

State Sens. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, and Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive sponsored the bills.

“I’ve always been pro-life and as a father and grandfather it’s a personal thing for me,” Hansen told the Muskegon Chronicle The Muskegon Chronicle. “Children are very, very special and they need to be protected.”

“Every life, born or unborn, is sacred and deserves to be protected,” Hansen said. “There should be penalties for performing or helping perform partial-birth abortions. My bill will help ensure that people who conduct these gruesome procedures face consequences for their actions.”

Meekhof added: “Partial-birth abortion is a barbaric act that we need to stop. I’m proud to sponsor this measure because I believe every life is precious. I look forward to seeing this bill become law.”

Hansen said the state law is needed even though Congress banned the practice, because it “makes it easier to enforce the ban in Michigan.”

In the state House, the House Families, Children & Seniors Committee reported Rep. Kevin Daley’s H.B. 4109 in June. Repeated efforts to ban partial birth abortion have been ongoing in Michigan for 15 years.

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said, “Partial birth abortion is an unconscionable, indefensible means of killing a child who is more born than unborn. After several laws being enacted and court rulings that blocked them, two vetoes by the previous governor and a citizen petition drive, we are grateful for the persistence of the current legislature to put this ban on the books once and for all.”

“Now is the time for Michigan to finally place this measure to protect babies who are inches from being born on our law books once and for all,” Listing says.

Those representing Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union voiced their opposition to a ban on partial birth abortion during the committee hearing.

In June 2008, pro-abortion former Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed a ban on partial-birth abortions for a second time. She claimed the bill needed a health exception even though the Supreme Court had already upheld a federal ban saying such an exception was unnecessary. In fact, physicians groups had indicated that late-term abortions pose problems for women’s health and there is no reason to ever do the disputed abortion procedure to protect the health of women.

In October 2003, Governor Granholm vetoed Senate Bill 395, the “Legal Birth Definition Act,” which sought to prohibit partial-birth abortion by granting full legal status to the child as soon as any part of his or her body emerges from the mother.

The first Michigan law to ban partial birth abortion was enacted in 1996, signed by Governor John Engler, but eventually overturned by the federal courts.