Reject Proposal 3’s Abortion Radicalism

We’re not going to talk about how the creators of Proposal 3 made it so vague that its broad “mental health of the pregnant individual” exemption could lead to abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. We’re not going to talk about how its allowing any “attending health care professional” to determine the procedure’s necessity could do the same. We’re not going to talk about how the logical conclusion of its declaration that “the state shall not discriminate in the protection or enforcement” of abortion is the elimination of parental consent.

Greater minds than ours have demonstrated how hidden in the text of Prop. 3 is a Pandora’s Box of consequences. Its vagueries are waiting to be exploited by abortion-supporting judges to further their agenda. But even if one were to reject this premise, the amendment’s definite and undisputed measures alone would make Michigan one of the most radically pro-abortion states in America, and that is cause enough to vote against it.

Prop. 3 allows the government to restrict abortion (with broad and ill-defined exceptions) after the point of viability, which is when the unborn baby can survive outside of the womb, generally believed to be at about 24 weeks. According to the Guttmacher Institute, only 17 other states in the Union have a limit that late in pregnancy. None have one any later.

At 24 weeks, the baby is about a foot long. His heart has been beating for five months, pumping blood out to his arms and legs, which are fully formed. For four months, his brain and spinal cord have been completely formed. For three months, he has been opening and closing his fists and mouth. For two months, he has been sucking his thumb, yawning, and making faces. For one month, he has been kicking inside his mother’s womb. His fingerprints have been identifiable for a short time, and he has just begun hiccuping.

The abortion procedure that typically takes place from 14 weeks until about this point is called dilation and evacuation. To prepare, the person performing the abortion dilates the woman’s cervix and gives her anesthesia. He then uses a speculum to open the vagina and another instrument to stabilize the cervix. After that, the abortionist uses a suction tool to evacuate the amniotic fluid, later using a stainless steel clamp to remove the baby, often tearing him limb from limb in the process.

We believe most Michiganders do not want this to take place in our state. While there has been little polling of the state’s residents beyond their views of Prop. 3, a national poll conducted in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade found that about 49 percent of Americans approved of a six-week abortion ban, and 72 percent approved of one at 15 weeks. Given this national data, it is reasonable to assume that people living in Michigan want the government to outlaw abortion somewhere between six and 15 weeks, a full two to four months sooner than is mandated by Prop. 3.

Michiganders have now found themselves the victims of circumstances. If Prop. 3 does not pass and the courts decide that there is no right to abortion in the Michigan constitution, as written, the complete abortion ban signed in 1931 would go into effect. We support the full protection it would grant to the unborn, but we acknowledge that most Michigan voters do not share our view. For their part, they find themselves torn between two extremes: total prohibition and abortion radicalism.

It is a mistake, however, to treat the choice as dichotomous. Michiganders do not need to choose which extreme they dislike more. If Prop. 3 passes, the debate in Michigan will be settled for the foreseeable future in favor of radicalism. Any restriction before 24 weeks will be automatically struck down, and there will be no remedy aside from another popular referendum. On the other hand, if voters reject Prop. 3, the 1931 ban will go into effect. But acts of the legislature can more easily be changed. It is quite possible that the laws will liberalize a little, if that is what Michigan voters want. Moderates on abortion are much more likely to see their ideal abortion policy enacted only if  Prop. 3 fails.

It is imperative that Michiganders have the opportunity for more discussion on this issue to determine where the red line on abortion should be in our state. It is, perhaps, somewhere between a complete ban and fetal dismemberment. If Prop. 3 passes, that discussion ends. If Prop. 3 fails, the discussion may continue. This debate remains unfinished, and we shouldn’t force it to close.

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