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 | By Stephanie Van Koevering

What can ordinary Catholics do to protect life in the wake of the passage of Proposal 3?

It would be easy to look to Nov. 8, 2022, as the day Michigan’s Catholics and other pro-life advocates officially lost their nearly 50-year battle to protect the rights of the unborn and the sanctity of life. With the passage of Proposal 3, the fundamental right to reproductive freedom was enshrined in Michigan’s Constitution, affording women the right to abort a pregnancy at any time and for any reason.

On paper, it certainly reads like the end of the fight. 

Thankfully, that isn’t the case, according to Christen Polo, executive director of Protect Life MI (PLM).

“I have been so encouraged, and really I shouldn’t be surprised that God’s people will not give up that easily,” said Polo. “I have been so surprised by how many people have responded (to the passage of Proposal 3) by saying, ‘Of course, we will stay committed. We have more of a responsibility to the victims of injustice when our laws are unjust.’”

It is a wonderful sentiment and an encouraging sign for the pro-life movement; however, it is an energy and an attitude in need of redirection following last year’s highly focused and contentious political battle. According to Polo, that recalibrated effort needs to start with making sure supporters know how to effectively engage on the issue.  

“For anyone out there looking to do something, I think the very first step is to learn how to talk about the issue in a winsome way and then share that truth with as many people as possible,” said Polo. “Because if we’re ever going to ensure that Michigan is a pro-life state, we first have to change the hearts and minds of the people of the state.”

Thankfully, Protect Life MI offers the training resources advocates need to successfully grow Michigan’s pro-life community.

“We’re going to be giving talks in parishes all over the state in the coming months,” said Polo. “And we’ll also be doing two pro-life boot camps for people of all ages to get trained and then shadow pro-life experts in how to have these conversations by actually going out and doing the outreach. All the details are available on our website,”

According to Polo, the key to success lies in effectively reaching and engaging Michigan’s young people — an undertaking for which Jennifer Rule, PLM’s director of community engagement, feels a great deal of optimism. 

“The level of support and engagement we saw on Michigan State’s campus this past fall was really encouraging,” said Rule. “We’re on 26 college campuses now and in 30 high schools, and our experience in all those communities has been nothing short of amazing, so we’re really hopeful that we'll be able to foster and grow those campus groups in the months and years ahead.”

Consistent growth and effort will invariably be the key to the success for the pro-life movement in Michigan, as Polo and Rule both agree that it could be years, and possibly even decades, before the issue returns to a Michigan ballot.  

Thankfully, the fight on Proposal 3 might not be quite over, according to Barbara Listing, president of Right to Life of Michigan.

There are still many opportunities for Michigan’s Catholic community to be supportive. Participating in the State March for Life at the State Capitol on Nov. 8 —the anniversary of the passage of Proposal 3 — would be incredibly impactful.

“We’re really pushing and hoping for a big showing at the March for Life,” said Listing. “It’s a huge opportunity for us to demonstrate to this administration and Michigan’s lawmakers that the people of this state value life and won’t give up on working to protect the rights of the unborn. So, please, join us. Your presence and support really can make a difference.”

Stephanie Van Koevering is the editor for FAITH Magazine.