State Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) is now the acting lieutenant governor of Minnesota—one heartbeat away from the governor’s office. While she never sought this role, she ascended to the position after a series of unexpected events.
Following pro-abortion Sen. Al Franken’s decision to resign, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton appointed his own lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, to be Franken’s replacement in the Senate — leaving her position vacant. Under the state Constitution, the president of the Minnesota Senate automatically fills such a vacancy — and Sen. Fischbach is the president.
Smith officially resigned her position late Tuesday night, elevating Fischbach to be acting lieutenant governor.
Fischbach and Gov. Dayton are an unusual pairing. Dayton has a long record of support for abortion. And Smith, Dayton’s chief of staff before becoming lieutenant governor, was actually vice president of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota—the state’s leading performer of abortion.
Smith used to lobby against pro-life bills. Dayton has consistently vetoed them.
Fischbach is the opposite. Michelle and her husband, Scott, have both been active in the pro-life movement since childhood.
The Fischbachs met on the campaign of pro-life U. S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz. Michelle was a summer intern and Scott worked as a field representative. After Boschwitz’s victory, both headed to central Minnesota for college. The couple married in 1987 and then spent time grassroots organizing. They worked on political campaigns and in pro-life chapters in Minnesota and around the country.
In early 1996, when their local Senate seat opened up in a special election, Michelle was already a member of the Paynesville City Council and a natural fit for the job. Meanwhile, Scott was a senior consultant to Sen. Bob Dole working on the Iowa precinct caucuses in Des Moines.
By the end of February, Michelle was a state senator and Dole, with a victory in Iowa, was on his way to the GOP nomination for president. In the November elections, Sen. Fischbach was re-elected to a full four-year term while Dole was defeated by pro-abortion Pres. Bill Clinton.
The Fischbachs both continued their careers in campaign politics and the pro-life movement. Michelle focused on her work in the Minnesota Senate while earning her law degree. Scott became executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state’s oldest and largest pro-life organization.
In the Senate, Michelle has dealt with all manner of constituent services and defended her rural district from onerous rules and regulations that limit the ability of local families to make ends meet. She has served as chair of the Higher Education committee and was elected by her peers to be the first female president of the Minnesota Senate.
When it comes to pro-life legislation in Minnesota, Michelle is usually in the mix—authoring, co-sponsoring, or merely advising her fellow legislators on the rules, strategies, and best practices for success. During her tenure, the Legislature has passed numerous pro-life bills. It has enacted the Woman’s Right to Know informed consent law and the Positive Alternatives grant program to help women receive the resources they need to choose life.
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In addition to all of her legislative and legal work, Michelle finds time to run the National Right to Life Committee’s student oratory and essay contests, which involve thousands of young people across the country.
Meanwhile, Scott continues in his role as executive director of MCCL. MCCL has a 50-year history of leadership in the pro-life movement and in recent years has contributed to pro-life efforts internationally.
“You can’t just say no to abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia,” Scott says. “You also have to say yes to life. When it comes to abortion, we have to provide alternatives and the support a woman needs. With euthanasia, we have to address elder abuse and nursing home injustices. With infanticide, we need funding for Safe Place for Newborns legislation.
“These are all things we are doing in Minnesota. And they are working to protect life.”
Both Scott and Michelle hope to do much more to protect life in the years to come.