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Abortion opponents rejoice at end of Roe, say fight to end abortion rights in Michigan not over

  People who oppose abortion rights kneel in prayer after the end of Roe v. Wade
Tracy Samilton
/
Michigan Radio
People who oppose abortion rights kneel in prayer after the end of Roe v. Wade

Friday was a day of rejoicing for people in Michigan who strongly oppose abortion. Rallies were held across the state in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade. The decision sends the fight over abortion to the states.

Abortion opponents said the fight is not over to bar abortion in Michigan, and they're ready for that fight.

Michigan has a 1931 law still on the books that makes abortion a felony, with only a narrow exception, but enforcement of that law is temporarily blocked by a state Court of Claims injunction.

Shortly after the Supreme Court issued its ruling that ends 50 years of a federal right to abortion, a group of people gathered to kneel in prayer on the grass, near the Planned Parenthood clinic in Ann Arbor.

"We humbly repent of all the sin that we have caused through this horrendous thing of abortion," Pastor Mike Frison of Knox Presbyterian Church prayed. "And Lord, we ask that you would just make this the beginning of a new day for America and for the world."

Frison also prayed that God would "convict the heart" of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The governor has asked the state Supreme Court to find that Michigan's constitution protects a woman's right to abortion.

"Would you bring little children to [Whitmer] that would show her what a great, great treasure these children are — no matter how they're conceived, no matter what their life might look like. That there would be people that would want to adopt them and bring them into their families," Frison prayed.

One woman's face was shining with joy as she listened to the prayer. Kristy Bonasso said as a Catholic, it's a day of great joy.

"I do relate this all to Jesus, and the sacred heart of Jesus, and this is his Solemnity, his Feast Day, and I just knew in my heart that this is what Jesus would want," she said.

But abortion opponents know that many people in Michigan, even people of faith, don't agree with the Dobbs decision. Polls have long shown that a majority of voters support a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy.

Anna Visser is communications director for Right to Life Michigan. She said in addition to the governor's court battle over whether the state's constitution already protects the right to abortion, there's also a petition drive underway to explicitly place the right to abortion in the Michigan Constitution.

Visser said abortion rights opponents are already fighting the petition drive, and they will fight the initiative if it gets on the ballot.

"We think that people need to know that this 'anything goes' Reproductive Freedom for All petition by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, that even if you are pro-choice, you do not want to sign this petition, and you do not want vote for it, because it is so radical," she said.

Abortion opponents have played a long game for nearly 50 years against Roe v. Wade, So they're under no misapprehension that abortion rights supporters will quietly accept the Dobbs decision.

That's why many of them acknowledge that Dobbs is the only the beginning of the end of abortion in Michigan

Sandy Weathers is with Ann Arbor 40 Days for Life and Pro-Life Action Network. She said the real long game is to make abortion completely unthinkable.

"Our biggest challenge is to change hearts and minds," said Weathers. "And we need to do that here in Michigan regardless of what the laws are on the books, because there are going to be women that are going to still be seeking abortions. We still have a big job to do, changing hearts and minds."

Given the outrage from abortion rights supporters to the end of Roe v. Wade, changing hearts and minds could be a long, long game, indeed.

CORRECTION: An earlier headline on this post said abortion opponents' "fight to keep abortion illegal in Michigan" was not over. While a 1931 Michigan law does ban abortion in almost all cases, that law is currently unenforceable under an injunction issued by the state Court of Claims.

Copyright 2022 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Tracy Samilton covers the auto beat for Michigan Radio. She has worked for the station for 12 years, and started out as an intern before becoming a part-time and, later, a full-time reporter. Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio. She considers her coverage of the landmark lawsuit against the University of Michigan for its use of affirmative action a highlight of her reporting career.