March 1, 2011

Catholic Conference Supports Renewed Effort to Ban Partial-Birth Abortion in State Law

LANSING (MCC) – Michigan Catholic Conference released the following comments from President/CEO Paul A. Long regarding Senate Bill 160, legislation which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee today that would ban partial-birth abortion in this state:

“There are few practices known to mankind that are more gruesome and deplorable than that known as partial-birth abortion, where a viable child is partially delivered from his or her mother before an abortionist kills the child by puncturing the skull with a pair of scissors. The fact that there is opposition to banning this heinous practice speaks to the injustice unborn children face every day. Considering Senate Bill 160 mirrors the federal partial-birth abortion ban found constitutional in 2007 by the United States Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Carhart, there should be no reason to question the legality of this widely-supported measure.

“Pew Research Center surveys have found that upwards of 75 percent of the general public support keeping partial-birth abortion illegal. According to Pew: ‘Even among those who say abortion should be legal in all cases, almost half (49%) believe that partial-birth abortion procedures should be illegal. Overall, only 17% of Americans say that partial-birth abortion should be legal.’ Unfortunately, partial-birth abortion is legal in Michigan due to court challenges and executive vetoes. It is time for this injustice to end!

“It is the hope of the Michigan Catholic Conference that Senate Bill 160 sails through the Legislature, as similar measures have done on four separate occasions over the last 15 years, and is signed into law by Governor Snyder.”

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

Michigan Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Legislation Timeline:

1996: Legislation banning partial-birth abortion sponsored by Representative James Ryan signed into law by Governor John Engler (P.A. 273 of 1996). Michigan becomes first state in the nation to ban partial-birth abortion. Legal challenge filed by American Civil Liberties Union. Legislation deemed unconstitutional by Judge Gerald Rosen on July 31, 1997.

1999: Governor Engler signs “Infant Protection Act” (P.A. 107 of 1999) sponsored by Representative Joel Gougeon, which bans partial-birth abortion. Federal Judge Arthur Tarnow delays effect as the U.S. Supreme Court later ruled Stenberg v. Carhart, a similar partial birth abortion ban in the state of Nebraska, unconstitutional. Judge Tarnow enjoins the Michigan law, citing Stenberg's control of the Michigan case. Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm fails to appeal the decision.

2003: Governor Jennifer Granholm vetoes the “Legal Birth Definition Act,” sponsored by Senator Michelle McManus, which bans partial birth abortion and declares birth to be at the point where any portion of the child is vaginally delivered outside of the mother’s body. Citizen’s initiative to ban partial birth abortion by bypassing the governor is launched after the Senate falls one vote shy of a veto override. “People’s Override” initiative is successful as hundreds of thousands of signatures prompt the Legislature to address and overwhelmingly support the initiative. Planned Parenthood files suit and U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood later finds the law unconstitutional, citing an “undue burden.” Attorney General Mike Cox appeals the decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which in June 2007 ruled the Legal Birth Definition Act unconstitutional.

2008: Governor Jennifer Granholm again vetoes legislation (Senate Bill 776) that would have banned partial birth abortion in Michigan. The legislation mirrors the federal Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007. SB 776 passed the Senate 24-13 and the House of Representatives 74-32 with wide bipartisan support. Catholic Conference sites Granholm's "continued indifference toward human life."

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