(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 30, 2013)
Right to Life Michigan, Mother and Unborn Baby Care, Save the One and Personhood USA were on hand for Thursday’s Oakland County Commission meeting where Republican Commissioners Christine Long and Jim Runstead introduced a “respect life” resolution. Democrat Mattie Hatchet also requested to be added to the resolution, yet was absent for the meeting.
After passionate discussion on the issue of abortion, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution “Recognizing October as Respect Life Month in Oakland County.”
~Comments from Organizations Against Abortion~
Rebecca Kiessling, who is active in many anti-abortion groups, including Save the One where she is President, spoke during public comment. The Rochester Hills family law attorney and Pro Life speaker said “I share my story that my birth mother was abducted by a serial rapist in Livonia at knife-point, and she went to two back alley abortionists and I was almost aborted. And that was my near death experience. And that was life changing. And the fact that I was younger doesn’t make it any less real or any less significant than someone who wakes up out of a coma to learn they were almost killed in an auto accident.
“I am alive today, not because my birth mother chose life. She chose abortion. Today we’re both thankful that we were both spared now that horror. I am alive because of Pro Life legislators in Michigan who, without even knowing of my exact existence, recognized that mine was a life worth saving”
She encouraged the Commission to approve the proclamation and also to consider whether taxpayers should be paying for abortion coverage for Oakland County employees.
Peter Riccardo of Mother and Unborn Baby Care said that his organization convinced 80 women not to have abortions in just August alone.
Christopher Zielinski of Right to Life Michigan said that “life is not something that should be political. Life is something that should be celebrated and respected.” Zielinski, who lives in Highland, explained that he thinks there are not enough babies being born. “They spent the entire summer tearing down Highland Middle School that had stood there 60 years,” he said. “They’re tearing down the school right next to the Township Office because we don’t have enough children in the schools.” He added that Detroit Schools are losing funding because there aren’t enough kids.
~Amendment, First Attempt~
Following the Pro Life organizations comments, Democrats Marcia Gershenson and Helanie Zack introduced an amendment to the proclamation addressing the legality of abortion access.
“Be it further resolved that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners believer that abortion should remain safe, legal and rare, and that women should ultimately be able to make this very difficult decision in concert with their family and doctor,” the amendment stated.
Rather than allowing the amendment to go to a vote, Oakland County Chairmen Mike Gingell interceded. “My opinion as the chair is that this is not really germane to the resolution that’s presented. The resolution’s really about Right to Life, it’s not about an amendment talking about a procedure… I rule that this is not germane to the resolution that’s before us today.”
~Amendment, Second Attempt~
A second amendment attempt was made by Democrats, this time authored by Dave Woodward. His amendment stated “The Oakland County Board of Commissioners believes that women who are raped or victims of incest should not be forced by their government to carry out a pregnancy.”
This two was ruled by Gingell to be “not germane” to the proclamation.
Woodward disagreed. “The context of this resolution clearly speaks to abortion rights and so with all due respect that I have for you I think you are completely wrong in this. The context of this resolution is very clear. It speaks specifically to the abortion issue and more specifically of challenging abortion rights as it currently exists in the law,” he said.
After being unable to get the 3/5 vote of the body to overrule Gingell, Woodward spoke in discussion of the resolution. “Here we have a question brought forth exclusively for political gamesmanship and bring it into this house and not be able to debate the warrants of the issue, more importantly bring forth the full context of the conversation. And I think that reflects poorly on this body. I accept that my personal beliefs, my political beliefs are different than those shared in this room. But how dare that? And this body, regardless of our positions, has been very dedicated to the fact of allowing voices and questions and opportunities to engage in this process. And for the first time in my memory that we have actually shut that down in exchange for allowing pure political propaganda to be brought here today….
“The reality is, we put laws in place that basically said that women are not to be trusting with regarding decisions about their personal body. As a father of two young girls, how dare anyone in this chamber, anyone in elected office? If you ever impose your will and put laws that restrict their individual freedoms I will fight you with all the being in my body….Because of our Constitution, because of our systems of law, because of a ruling of the United States Supreme Court, women have the right to choose in this country. In every single state in this country. That expansion of freedom and right to privacy is a Constitutionally upheld right and responsibility.”
Woodward went on, encouraging fellow Commissioners to vote no on “this trash,” and telling opponents to “meet me in the back alley.”
Runstead responded to Woodward, saying “that is the longest soliloquy of someone who has been shut out of debate.” He then explained why he brought the resolution. “This is about respecting life, that’s the concept behind this. The only part mentioned about abortion is the reduction in the number of abortions, and I think we’re all in favor of that.”
Earlier, between the proposed amendments, Democrat Helaine Zack stated that she would be voting no because she is Jewish. She said “my religion will say to us that you have to protect the life of the mother if the mother’s health or well-being is in danger.”
Republican Shelly Taube countered that contention, stating “I too am Jewish and I am a Right to Life supporter…Even in my faith there are multiple branches just as in the Christian faith… Everybody has different opinions, but we are never ever going to let a mother die because she is pregnant and cannot carry that child.”
Zack’s final thought was that “this is a personal decision that all of us should be making. We shouldn’t be handling this here.”
The resolution proclaiming October “Respect Life Month in Oakland County” passed with 14 yeas and 5 nays.
Because access to abortion is legal and protected at a national level, discussions and resolutions at a county level are symbolic in nature.
To view the entire discussion or for other Oakland County Commission information, visit their website at http://www.oakland.michiganliveevents.com/2013/08/2013-main-board-of-commissioners-meeting-7-pm/.