Michigan abortion foes drop petition drive to ban method

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Abortion opponents said Tuesday they’re dropping a petition drive to prohibit a second-trimester procedure in Michigan after state election officials said the campaign didn’t produce enough valid signatures.

Right to Life of Michigan said it won’t contest the conclusion when the Board of State Canvassers meets Friday.

“Instead of focusing on court challenges regarding the counting process, we will be focusing on the critical 2020 elections moving forward,” said the group’s president, Barbara Listing.

The campaign was aimed at getting veto-proof legislation before the Republican-controlled Michigan House and Senate. Abortion opponents want to outlaw dilation and evacuation in most instances, a procedure in which a fetus is removed in pieces with a surgical instrument.

Abortion-rights advocates say the procedure is safe and doctors should not face prosecution for using it.

Under Michigan law, an initiative goes to the Legislature if a group submits at least 340,047 valid signatures to the elections bureau. If lawmakers reject it, it goes on the statewide ballot for voters to decide.

In this case, the state said abortion opponents fell short. Although roughly 380,000 signatures were submitted, the elections bureau estimated that only about 333,000 were valid.

“Our volunteers did an excellent job, but the bulk of the errors were things beyond our control, specifically people not knowing their voter registration status or forgetting they already signed the petition,” Listing said.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, the advocacy arm of Planned Parenthood, was pleased with the development.

“The days of Right to Life dictating medical care in Michigan are over, and we couldn’t be happier to be the ones to say it,” President Lori Carpentier said.

The abortion method targeted by Right to Life was used in 2,076, or 7.6%, of abortions in Michigan last year. It accounted for more than half of all second-trimester abortions, including 84% that were performed after the 16th week of pregnancy.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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