Dismemberment Abortion Ban
On June 26, 2019 Right to Life of Michigan launched a citizens-initiated petition drive to end dismemberment abortions in the state. The Michigan Values Life Ballot committee was formed to organize and run the initiative. Petitions will be circulated with the goal of obtaining 400,000 signatures in a 180-day period. Once that happens, the signatures will be turned into the Board of Canvassers for approval before being sent to the legislature for their approval. With a simple majority in each chamber, the petition will become law and will not be subject to the Governor’s veto. If not approved, the measure will go on the 2020 ballot.
H.B. 4320 and 4321 are currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee awaiting a hearing. S.B. 229 and 230 are currently in the House Judiciary Committee awaiting a hearing.
On May 14th the Senate passed S.B. 229 and 230 along party lines. Later that same afternoon, the House approved H.B. 4320 and 4321 also along party lines. Pro-abortion members of both chambers gave floor speeches against the bills, while prolife members spoke in favor of the bills.
On April 24th the House Families Committee heard compelling testimony from Dr. Donna Harrison from AAPLOG along with several other prolife speakers. On May 1st, H.B. 4320 and 4321 were voted out of committee with all Republicans voting for the ban and all Democrats voting against it except for one who abstained. The bills were then referred to the House Judiciary committee. Since this was the second House committee, the bills were brought up and voted out on the same day, May 7th. Senate Bills 229 and 230 were brought up for testimony in the Senate Judiciary committee on April 25th where once again compelling testimony was given in support of the bills. The bills were voted out along party lines on May 9th.
H.B. 4320 and 4321 were introduced on March 12, 2019 by Representatives Pam Hornberger and Lynn Afendoulis respectively. The bills were referred to the House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors. S.B. 229 and 230 were introduced by Senators Tom Barrett and Kim LaSata respectively on March 19, 2019 and were referred to the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. They are identical bills to H.B. 4320 & 4321. These bills amend the Michigan partial-birth abortion ban that was enacted in 2011.
Dismemberment abortion is the name given to a common second trimester abortion called the dilation and evacuation abortion (D&E abortion). This type of abortion is typically performed on unborn babies from 13 weeks through 24 weeks gestation. During this procedure, the abortion provider inserts grasping forceps through the woman’s cervix and into the uterus to grab a living fetus. The doctor grips a fetal part with the forceps and pulls it back through the cervix and vagina. The friction causes the fetus to tear apart. For example, a leg might be ripped off the fetus as it is pulled through the cervix and out of the woman. The unborn baby is torn apart limb from limb. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off. The violent and dehumanizing nature of dismemberment abortion undermines the public’s perception of the appropriate role of a physician and confuses the medical, legal, and ethical duties of physicians to preserve and promote life.
D&E abortions are the most commonly performed type of second trimester abortion. There were 1,777 D&E abortions done in Michigan in 2017, about 4 to 5 per day. The Center for Medical Progress videos highlighting the trafficking of fetal organs and tissue at Planned Parenthood showed the reality of D&E abortions and their role in fetal tissue experimentation. Researchers are eager to obtain fetal tissue from babies at a later gestational age, so the D&E abortion method becomes a necessary tool for abortion providers.
Dismemberment abortion bans have been put in place in 10 states. In 8 of the states, the law is not currently enforced due to legal challenges. This is the third time a dismemberment abortion ban has been introduced in Michigan. This bill will amend the current partial birth abortion ban which has been in effect since 2011. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of partial birth abortion bans in 2007 with its Carhart v. Gonzales decision. The D&E abortion procedure was a focus of discussion during the Supreme Court’s decision. The procedure itself was discussed at length and references to it were included in the majority opinion. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy called dismemberment abortions “a procedure itself laden with the power to devalue human life.” This type of abortion has been in use since 1973.