Just this week, Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan signed into law that state’s version of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. As our affiliate, Right to Life of Michigan, said: “The law is a long awaited, celebrated achievement by dedicated prolife people in Michigan”
They certainly deserve to celebrate. After all, Right to Life of Michigan has been working toward this day since 1996. Passing the ban at the state level allows the state attorney general to prosecute violators of the law instead of relying on the US attorney general to do so. It also ensures that the law remains in place in that state should the federal ban be rescinded.
This event serves as a reminder to the pro-life movement of what a victory the federal ban was. It was the first and so far the only time a ban on a specific abortion procedure was upheld by the Supreme Court. It was a turning point in the national debate on abortion.
The debate exposed what the abortion industry vehemently tried to obscure: that abortion takes the life of a living human being. A wide audience of Americans was exposed to the events that transpire in the abortionist’s office. Many of them were shocked by what they heard and saw and were moved from complacency to action.
There were images of unborn and partially-born children present nearly everywhere: in the halls of Congress, in people’s dens on the evening news, and on families’ kitchen tables printed in newspapers. Not only images, but very public discussions and arguments about the appropriateness of using scissors to pierce the skull of a living baby.
The language of the bill was also uniquely descriptive, using phrases like “gruesome and inhuman” and graphically describing the removal of an partly-born baby’s brains during the abortion procedure.
This exposure truly shifted the national debate on abortion from ethereal “choice” toward very concrete images like a surgeon’s scissors piercing the scull of a partly-born human being.
The struggle to push the envelope on public perception of what our opponents labeled as “choice” and to enact a successful ban on an abortion procedure played out largely during my teenage years. That debate caught my attention then and helped form my opinions on the rights of unborn human beings. And every year I learn I am not alone. Many more people are working to protect the right-to-life today because of that fight.
The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act made illegal a procedure that, based on some estimates, was performed thousands of time annually to take the lives of premature human beings. The passage of the law and the Supreme Court decision upholding it established a vital legislative and judicial foothold for future pro-life advancement. The law also changed hearts and minds and created a more vibrant pro-life movement.