In recent months, the national conversation about abortion and its presence in society has increased. 

Speaking out about the dignity of the human person has become more critical than before. The Catholic Church urges the faithful to be active in these conversations, including within the political realm. 

In Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the bishops write that Catholics “should be guided more by our moral conviction than by our attachment to a political party or interest group.” At the same time, when participating with political parties and candidates, people of faith are called to highlight fundamental moral truths and, when necessary, challenge party platforms and positions. Policies that devalue the human person should never be supported, and instead, greater emphasis must be placed on support and healing for women, children, and families. Here are several suggestions for engaging in the public conversation and supporting pro-life values in Michigan:

1. Sign the Petition to End Dismemberment Abortion: In 2018, nearly 2,000 dismemberment abortions were performed in Michigan. This brutal procedure dismembers a living unborn child, removing him or her from the womb limb by limb. Thousands of Michigan voters, organized by the Michigan Values Life Committee and Right to Life of Michigan, are now seeking to ban this procedure through what’s referred to as a citizen’s initiative. The Michigan Constitution allows for the people of the state to sponsor legislation through this type of petition. To succeed, it will need approximately 350,000 valid signatures from registered Michigan voters. Once the signatures are verified, the petition only needs majority support in the State House and Senate to become law and does not require the governor’s signature. This is important as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has never supported restrictions on abortion and recently promised to veto pro-life legislation. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) strongly encourages Catholics and parishes to participate in this effort to end dismemberment abortion. Find more information at www.micatholic.org/MichiganValuesLife.  

2. Support Women in Crisis Pregnancies: Too many vulnerable women feel alone or unsupported during their pregnancy, which can make abortion feel at times like the only choice. Catholics and pro-life institutions are called to provide support and care for women who may be facing a crisis pregnancy. Since 2013, the Michigan Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services program has done just that. The program has assisted almost 8,000 Michigan women and their babies with services such as pregnancy counseling, prenatal health information, parenting support and education, and necessary care items such as clothing, diapers, and formula during pregnancy and up through the first twelve months of a child’s life. As lawmakers discuss the upcoming 2019-20 state budget, it is critical that funding is retained to keep this program serving women in need, especially since Gov. Whitmer recommended eliminating the funding. The MCC is especially thankful to the Republican leadership in both chambers who have consistently supported this program and fought for its inclusion in the budget. Sign up for updates at www.micatholic.org/can/ to learn more.

3. Engage in Pro-Life Events and Advocacy: The Catholic Church teaches every person is precious and made in the image of God. One upcoming conference explores the notion of being “pro-life for the whole life” and of building a supportive culture for the vulnerable. The event — the Democrats for Life’s annual national conference — will be held July 26 to 28 in East Lansing. The organization seeks to represent pro-life members of the Democratic party and to protect human life at all stages. The event will bring in expert speakers, and Bishop Earl Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing will celebrate Sunday Mass for participants. 

Catholics can also continue calling for the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act to be considered for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives: https://tinyurl.com/y5epa5yt. The legislation, H.R. 962, would prohibit infanticide and ensure that a child born alive after an abortion would receive the same degree of care to preserve the baby’s life and health as would be given to any other child born alive at the same gestational age. While a 2002 law already exists to protect these children, it does not include the penalties necessary for enforcement. Rep. Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, has led the charge to have the measure considered and has gathered support from many lawmakers, including several from Michigan’s congressional delegation.  

Regardless of how Catholics engage in discussions about abortion, they have the opportunity in each encounter to remember the dignity of all and to show sincere concern for women, children, and families. Join MCC in promoting pro-life values today.

The Word from Lansing is a regular column for Catholic news outlets and is written by Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) President and CEO Paul A. Long. Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.