Lansing Update: Abortion Amendment off Ballot…for Now

In this update:

Abortion Amendment off the Ballot — For Now

The campaign to defeat the Anything Goes Abortion amendment scored a victory this week when a state board declined to approve the proposal for the November ballot.

However, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have already filed a legal challenge with the Michigan Supreme Court, asking the court to overturn that decision, so this is not over just yet. The court could order the board to place the petition on the ballot, or it could deny the litigants’ appeal and prevent the question from reaching voters.

Historically, the court has allowed a petition to appear on the ballot if it had garnered the appropriate number of valid signatures from voters. The state Bureau of Elections has stated the pro-abortion proposal did gather a sufficient number of signatures and recommended its placement on the ballot

The Board of State Canvassers — the four-member appointed body in charge of placing proposals on the ballot — deadlocked this week on a 2-2 party line vote on whether to approve the abortion proposal. Republicans voted against it and Democrats voted for it.

Because the board deadlocked, that means no action was taken and the ballot proposal was not placed on the ballot for November. But the proposal sponsors have gone to court to try to change that before Sept. 9, the deadline by which ballots must be finalized.

The Canvassers effectively rejected the abortion amendment after hearing the challenge filed by Citizens to Support MI Women & Children, the official committee supported by Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) to defeat the abortion proposal.

The challenge pointed out dozens of instances of missing spaces that resulted in run-on words that were in the version of the petition circulated to voters and would appear in the state constitution if approved by voters.

Without the spaces, the resulting run-on words don’t represent real words, and so the proposal language didn’t include the full text of the proposal as required by law and must be rejected, according to the argument made by Eric Doster, attorney for Citizens to Support MI Women & Children.

Tony Daunt, chairman of the Board of State Canvassers, called the errors in the abortion proposal “egregious” and said the Canvassers would have not approved this petition if it had been presented to the board.

The reason the board did not see this petition is because the board previously gave conditional approval to this version of the petition after a previous version had an extra word in it. The board granted the petition sponsor conditional approval if the extra word was removed before filing a new version with the state. The resulting petition that was filed with the state and circulated had the spacing issue in it.

Christen Pollo, spokesperson for Citizens to Support MI Women & Children, said in a statement released after the Canvassers’ action this week that “The Board of State Canvassers today did the right thing by refusing to insert into our constitution the gibberish proposed by advocates for this extreme amendment. The Michigan Supreme Court should support this move to protect our constitution from their vandalism as well.”

In other action taken by the Canvassers this week, the board approved the abortion amendment’s designation as Proposal 3 if the amendment does get placed on the ballot due to Supreme Court action. However, if a separate amendment concerning voting rights does not make the ballot, the abortion proposal would become Proposal 2. That separate proposal is also heading to court over a legal challenge.

Whether the abortion amendment makes the ballot and what number it will be will not be known until Sept. 9 at the latest.

The board also approved a 100-word summary describing the abortion amendment that closely resembles the summary of the proposal that was on the circulated petitions, with just a few changes. The summary language is what voters will see on their ballots.

Coalition’s First TV Ad Exposes Mistakes in Abortion Proposal

Citizens to Support MI Women & Children this week also announced the launch of the campaign’s first television ad against the abortion amendment, specifically focusing on the 60 mistakes that resulted in the Canvassers’ rejection of the proposal.

The ad features interviews of several people talking about the problem of putting an amendment into the constitution riddled with 60 mistakes.

“I’d vote no on putting one glitch into the constitution, but sixty?” asked one man who appears in the ad.

“Sixty mistakes in the constitution, forever? That’s outrageous,” said another woman in the ad.

The ad was announced in conjunction with the Canvassers’ rejection of the abortion amendment and will appear on television and online in some of the state’s major media markets.

MCC Takes Fight to Defend Michigan’s Abortion Ban to Supreme Court

MCC, Right to Life of Michigan and pro-life county prosecutors have gone to the Michigan Supreme Court to ask for the removal of the injunction against the state’s law that protects against abortion.

Michigan’s existing ban on abortion has been blocked from implementation by two judges after lawsuits were filed challenging the law. Those injunctions are what is keeping the law from going into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and returned the issue of abortion regulation to the states.

MCC, through its legal representation, has been fighting to defend the existing law on the books that prohibits abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk. For more information, The Detroit News recently published an article recapping the legal maneuvers to date.

Join Pope Francis in Praying for End of Death Penalty Worldwide

Pope Francis has made the worldwide abolition of the death penalty his prayer intention for September, which the entire Church is encouraged to participate in.

While Michigan does not allow the death penalty, there is one Michigan resident currently on federal death row — Marvin Gabrion II. In addition to praying for him, there are more than 2,700 people estimated to be on death row awaiting state execution across the country.

As Catholics, respecting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is our preeminent social value. That same dignity belongs to those convicted of serious crimes.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states it is “inadmissible” for modern societies to use capital punishment because it is “an attack on the inviolability and the dignity of the human person.”

For more information about the death penalty and how to join in this month’s prayer intention, check out the resources at the Catholic Mobilizing Network, an organization dedicated to ending the death penalty. Watch the Pope’s September prayer intention video here.

Ahead of Labor Day, U.S. Bishops Urge Support of Bills to Help Working Families

The U.S. bishops are marking the occasion of Labor Day by calling attention to two congressional bills that would go toward building a “more just economy by promoting the welfare of working families.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) supports passage of the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would require employers to provide short-term, reasonable accommodations to pregnant women in the workplace, as there is no such requirement right now.

The USCCB also wants to see an expanded the Child Tax Credit and is advocating for a proposal that would have no minimum income requirement, made available for the year before birth, including families with mixed immigration status in it, and offered to every child — regardless of the size of the family.

In recognition of Labor Day, MCC offices will be closed Monday. On this day when we are invited to reflect on the dignity of work and on the rights of workers, here is a prayer you may offer:

God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the worker. Make a place in our hearts for compassion to the men and women who labor tirelessly for basic necessities. Ensure a place for the men and women who are struggling to find work. Grant us your wisdom to greet and care for those who are unable to work due to illness or circumstances that prevent their participation. Be with the children who are not able to run and play, but instead must put in a hard day’s work to help their family afford to eat, to live. Be with us all, Christ Jesus, as we go about the busyness of our work. Hold us accountable not only for our actions, but most importantly to each of our neighbors. May we continue to work together to bring about your reign. We ask this in your holy name, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.