Thursday, July 13, 2006

Michigan Abortion Initiative Fails

A group that wanted to make abortion illegal in Michigan failed to collect enough signatures to put the issue on the November ballot. Michigan Citizens for Life needed at least 317,757 valid signatures, but the group said they collected fewer than 300,000. Had they succeeded, the initiative could have sparked a legal challenge to the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Ironically, Right to Life of Michigan failed to support the campaign, and without their assistance the initiative failed. I found this rather puzzling until I came across this post by West Michigan Politics explaining why he felt they withheld their help:
[...]the real story is that it's not in Right to Life'’s best political interests to have its sole reason for existence taken away. After all, it does raise millions of dollars in funds and helps make a lot of lobbyists and politicians as well as ministers and activists rich and powerful.

Think about it. We'’ve elected a heckuva lot of pro-life zealots to state and national offices over the last 25 years, and what have these anti-abortion champions produced in the way of legislation to outlaw the procedure? A lot of sound and fury signifying nothing but a blatant attempt to milk votes from gullible single-issue voters! Oh, to be sure, we saw the end of Medicaid-funded abortions for low income women and laws like the 24-hour waiting period have been whittled around the edges. But there is something to the twisted logic that Right to Life and its ilk stand to lose an awful lot if abortion is outlawed. What then happens to Right to Life? What then happens to all those pro-life politicians who'’ve nailed down massive numbers of single-issue voters after winning the blessing of the Most Reverend Right to Life? It seems as though the movers and shakers behind Michigan Right to Life decided they didn't want to know. Or perhaps they realized how it could create a backlash from the majority of voters who still support keeping abortion legal that would result in a tidal wave of voter anger putting state government into the hands of the Democrats and demoralizing the troops (and donors) in the ultra-conservative movement for years.
Sadly, West Michigan makes perfect sense. Life isn't really as important to these groups as money, power and votes.


Kvatch said...

Right to Life of Michigan failed to support the campaign...

West Michigan Politics has got an interesting perspective, but I'm willing to bet that there's another factor...

Did the initiative contain exceptions for rape and incest? If it didn't then my guess is that RtLoM didn't support it because too many of their own supporters want the exception. I read recently (New Yorker? Maybe Atlantic Monthly.) that many of the anti-choice forces are aghast that the Iowa legislation came up now. That they're expecting a backlash because of the extreme nature of the bills begin rammed through so many state legislatures.

Puts a stake through their "slow-go" approach.

Lew Scannon said...

I agree with WMP. A lot of people have made careers out of opposing abortion. Even with twelve years of John Engler and Republican control of the state house, they never made any effort to outlaw abortions. And if they had succeeded, they may have lost a large amount of their base that may have gone to the Democrats on other social issues.

Kathy said...

Kvatch, I did some further research and your're right, the initiative failed to gain the support of the statewide RTL organization in part due to the far reaching nature of the proposal, which opposed abortion in all cases including pregnancies caused through rape.

I'm surprised RTL is willing to make an exception in those cases. That seems to make them more pro-choice, which I consider myself to be. I don't believe abortion should be abused and used as a form of birth control, but I've always felt there should be exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother and other such circumstances.

I don't remember the exact statistics, but I read somewhere that a majority of people would be willing to change abortion laws if exceptions for those conditions were written in. The pro-choice and RTL type groups might be better off trying to modify the law instead of outright banning abortion. Of course, this would then end the money flowing to these groups as West Michigan argues.

Lew, your point about Engler got me wondering about something. Did the GOP ever push the abortion issue while he was in office? I know they made an issue of abortion when Granholm was running for office, but I don't remember hearing much about it from the party otherwise.

Kvatch said...

Kathy, thanks for taking the time to check out the reasons. I was extrapolating from what went on in South Dakota. I suspect that there are many anto-choice organizations that are concerned that their tactics are being overtaken by more radical groups willing to "go for the gusto," so to speak by trying to force the Constitutional question right now.