| By Bishop Earl Boyea

A petition to support life

You will be seeing some of your fellow parishioners gathering signatures for a petition these days. It is meant to put an end to a particular practice used by abortion providers. It is called “dismemberment abortion,” though the providers will never use that term. At a certain stage of the development of the baby in the womb, the provider will use various instruments to cut up the baby and remove the child piece by piece. It is not a pretty picture – not that any abortion procedure is. But this procedure seems particularly brutal.

The Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) and the bishops of Michigan have strongly endorsed this petition process, which is being directed by Michigan Right to Life. Another petition drive is also in the works, one which would ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected. The MCC and Michigan Right to Life obviously are sympathetic to the aim of this drive, but we find that it is unnecessary in our state. Currently, on the Michigan Law Books, is a 1931 law which bans all abortions. Should Roe v. Wade be overturned in the U.S. Supreme Court, then Michigan practice would revert to that 1931 law. There is disagreement as to whether the passage of a fetal heartbeat law would interfere with that.

So, instead of supporting that petition initiative, the MCC and Right to Life of Michigan have focused on one particularly egregious act, the dismemberment of a child in the womb, which stands a good chance of remaining an active and enforceable law even if the Supreme Court does not act any time soon.

This entire process of signature gathering can also be an occasion for all of us to examine our hearts and help our families and neighbors to do the same. In the end, abortions will only cease when all of us have a change of heart. We need a change of heart to recognize the human dignity of each and every human being from the moment of conception to natural death. We need a change of heart to provide assistance to any woman who finds herself in a situation in which abortion seems to be the only alternative. We need a change of heart to encourage men to be fully supportive of women and the children they help to conceive. We need a change of heart to believe that we can be better citizens if we do not take life but rather support life. I encourage all of you to sign a petition when it appears in your parish.