Saturday, April 13

‘It’s the beginning of a victory,’ says pro-life supporter at Lansing celebration

Rebecca Kiessling’s mother, a rape survivor, backed out of two illegal abortions, but told Kiessling she would have aborted her baby had it been allowed by law.

“I was born exactly three and a half years before Roe v Wade to the date, and I literally own my birth to the 1931 law, which protected me,” said Kiessling, a Livonia attorney, who stood Friday evening outside the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing to celebrate the overruling of Roe vs. Wade, the watershed decision that guaranteed for nearly 50 years a constitutional right to abortion.

She was among about 50 people gathered to applaud the opinion, anticipated for weeks, at an event organized by Protect Life Michigan, a nonprofit organization working with pro-life college students.

A short distance from the home of the Michigan Supreme Court, about 200 abortion rights advocates gathered at the state capitol, protesting what they say will take away women’s bodily autonomy.

RELATED: Woman who had abortion Thursday among those protesting end of Roe v. Wade at Michigan capitol

For those in the pro-life movement, this day is a long-time coming and worthy of joy, but they do not see the battle as won.

“We’re just here to celebrate our efforts, and also just to kind of be reignited, you know, we still have a lot of work to do,” Abby Gillmore, 25, and community engagement director for Protect Life Michigan said as “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond played in the background.

The decision, which upholds a Mississippi ban on abortion after 15 weeks, opens the door for enforcement of the 91-year-old Michigan law banning abortion and criminalizing providers.

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To codify the right to abortion and other reproductive decisions in the state constitution, the Reproductive Freedom For All coalition is circulating petitions.

RELATED: Abortion is still legal in Michigan. It might not stay that way.

Nancy Kujawa of Grand Ledge is among the effort’s opponents. She has been praying for years for Friday’s moment.

“It’s a victory. It’s the beginning of victory,” Kujawa said of the Supreme Court opinion, rolling back decades of precedent.

She noted the proposed amendment would get “rid of everything.”

It’s not one thing, she said. “It would overturn every protective law in our state for children, especially in teens. It is not a good proposal for anybody.”

Hopefully, she said, Michigan is more of a pro-life state than a pro-choice state.

Genevieve Marion, Right to Life of Michigan’s legislative director, said she was at the Hall of Justice to celebrate life.

“So today, legal protection to the unborn child can begin again, after 49 years of it being stripped from the unborn child,” said Marion, whose organization has been part of a coalition working against the ballot proposal.

“If this thing gets passed, we will have the most liberal abortion laws in the country. We will make New York and California look like conservative states by comparison. That’s how bad this thing is,” Marion said.

She sees a fight on three fronts; in addition to the ballot proposal, there are pending lawsuits aimed at toppling the 1931 ban. There is also a coming election.

“If we don’t hold pro-life majorities in the House, the Senate or unseat the governor, you know, they’ll just pass all kinds of abortion laws,” Marion said.

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How does Kiessling feel when she hears abortion advocates use stories like hers to argue in favor of Roe vs. Wade?

“It’s like saying you should be dead right now. And I’m a woman. What good are my rights to anything as a woman if I don’t have my right to life?”

Read more from MLive:

In momentous decision, SCOTUS reverses ruling that made abortion access a right

Five takeaways from the US Supreme Court majority opinion on abortion

Waiting 50 years, Michigan abortion opponents celebrate fall of Roe, vow to help women

Whitmer asks court for expediency in decision on 1931 abortion ban

Waiting 50 years, Michigan abortion opponents celebrate fall of Roe, vow to help women

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