Abortion Petitions and Conflicting Interests in Michigan
The following was originally authored by former Michigan Senator Patrick Colbeck.
“I have been asked by many people about my take on the proposed “heartbeat bill” being championed by the Michigan Heartbeat Coalition. First let me say that I have dear friends who are passionately Pro-Life in support of and in opposition to this initiative. I respect both camps and ask others to convey that same respect. I am personally opposed to the “heartbeat bill” for reasons I share below. Before I do so, however, I believe it is important to address the division pertaining to this bill that is manifesting itself as verbal attacks between members of the Pro-Life community in Michigan. Passionate Pro-Life advocates in both camps have been referred to as “liars”, “self-promoters”, or even “pro-abortion”. Even pro-life legislation is being pummeled with vigor if it is promoted by the opposing camp. The devil must be doing a jig watching the angry spirit being promoted.
We all share the goal of ending the abomination known as abortion. Since the Roe v Wade decision in 1973, over 60 Million lives have ended due to abortions. These abortions NEED TO STOP. The question before us is how best to accomplish this laudable goal.
MI Heartbeat Coalition has chosen to follow the lead of other states such as Ohio in the pursuit of a bill they believe would overturn some if not all of the pro-abortion provisions of the Roe v. Wade decision at a time when the SCOTUS composition would seem to indicate a favorable disposition towards such action. If successful, they would be changing existing Michigan statute regarding prohibitions on abortion. The passage of such a statute would immediately be followed by an injunction by a court friendly to Planned Parenthood. This injunction would put the status of our law firmly in the hands of the court system. I believe that everyone in both camps agrees upon this sequence of events.
I also believe that the majority of people in both camps would agree that the court system has been coloring outside of the lines of its authority for decades. It is this observation which is at the heart of my opposition to the proposed heartbeat bill.
Our current MI statute is very clear.
“Any person who shall willfully administer to any pregnant woman any medicine, drug, substance or thing whatever, or shall employ any instrument or other means whatever, with intent thereby to procure the miscarriage of any such woman, unless the same shall have been necessary to preserve the life of such woman, shall be guilty of a felony, and in case the death of such pregnant woman be thereby produced, the offense shall be deemed manslaughter.”
Please note that there is not any pregnancy term threshold (e.g. # weeks, once a heartbeat is heard, once baby kicks). Felony manslaughter occurs as soon as a miscarriage (e.g. abortion) is administered.
This statute is currently not enforced as written because of various court decisions featuring judges acting as legislators, most notably Roe v. Wade but there are others. These decisions become what is known as “case law”. “Case law” rulings by judges are often at odds with “original intent” of statute or constitutional provisions enacted by legislators and “We the People”. Per our U.S. Constitution, “all legislative authority is vested in Congress”, but that has not stopped rogue actors in black robes from asserting this role as well. This is why I oppose giving these un-elected creative writing experts the opportunity to dilute our current law by saying that miscarriage does not occur until an abortion is administered after a heartbeat is detected. This is also why I am such a vocal advocate for improved civics education in our state so that our citizens are better able to assert the provisions of our Constitution.
Other states such as Ohio do not have an anti-abortion statute as protective as Michigan. For these states, a heartbeat bill makes perfect sense. Furthermore, these states can already be used to test the Roe v Wade case law with the hopes of overturning this horrible decision. There is no need to add Michigan to the list.
If we want a heartbeat bill in Michigan, make it a heartbeat awareness bill that does not call into question the threshold at which a miscarriage is deemed a loss of life. This approach would achieve the goal of reducing the number of abortions much as statutory requirements related to giving mothers access to ultrasound scans reduces the number of abortions. Pro-abortion advocates thrive by attempting to make the case that a baby in the womb is not a life. Ultrasound scans and the sound of a beating heart make it difficult to make that argument to a mother.
This debate all comes down to a frank discussion of risk and reward. All Pro-Lifers are committed to ending abortions and overturning rogue court decisions such as Roe V. Wade. In addition to this goal, I am committed to minimizing the risk of diluting our current Michigan statute which outlaws abortion at conception. The MI Heartbeat Coalition looks at the deaths of over 60 Million babies since 1973 as rationale for risking the dilution of our current statute in exchange for an opportunity to challenge the Roe v Wade decision. I welcome the opportunity to challenge Roe v Wade, but I contend that we can challenge Roe v Wade via legislation already being pursued in other states without risking our current Michigan statute.
The MI Heartbeat Coalition has indeed taken steps in their proposal to clearly delineate original intent of their proposed law. If our courts ruled in accordance with original intent, I would have no reason for concern. Sadly, there is little respect for original intent in our court system today. We cannot control the rogue decisions of unelected justices such as Roe v Wade will attest, but we do have significant influence in decisions by elected officials such as legislators and governors. These elected officials control what goes into statute. As disappointed as I am by many of the decisions made by the majority of our elected officials at times, at least we can vote them out when we are disappointed. In other words, we cannot control “case law” made by unelected supreme court justices, but we can control actual statute enacted by legislatures. Let’s not weaken our current statute if we can achieve the aim of overturning Roe V Wade without doing so.
In closing, I implore pro-life advocates on both sides of the heartbeat bill debate to treat others with respect. We can disagree without being disagreeable. We can elevate our own argument without impugning the motives of those espousing an opposing view.
During our weekly Sunday luncheon confab after church service this past weekend, a friend of mine was so excited about what God was saying to him in the following passage from Colossians that he went out to his car to bring in his Bible. I thought it would be appropriate to share this passage in light of discussions to date on this topic.
 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves* with compassion, kindness, humility,* gentleness and patience.*  Bear with each other* and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.*  And over all these virtues put on love,* which binds them all together in perfect unity.* Let the peace of Christ* rule in your hearts, since as members of one body* you were called to peace.* And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ* dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom,* and as you sing psalms,* hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.*  And whatever you do,* whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks* to God the Father through him.”