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Policy Statements

Abortion

Abortion is any act or procedure performed with the willful intent to cause the death of an unborn child from conception to birth. As such, abortion is a grave act of injustice toward the child and a clear violation of the childs natural, unalienable right to life and his/her legal right not to be deprived of life without due cause. Right to Life of Michigan, therefore, is unalterably opposed to abortion.

This position does not oppose medical treatment to save the life of the mother. Treatments may, in rare circumstances, result in the unintended death of her child. The unintended death of the child is not to be construed as abortion. When the life of the mother is judged by competent medical personnel to be in danger, a doctor can and should treat both the mother and her unborn child, striving to save the lives of both. Because of medical advances, it is rare that the childs life cannot also be saved. Before the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decisions legalizing all abortions, the Michigan statutes governing abortion provided an exception for the life of the mother. Right to Life of Michigan accepts the intent of those statutes.

Right to Life of Michigan is opposed to aborting unborn human individuals conceived through acts of rape and incest. Right to Life of Michigan abhors the violence and violation of rape and incest. Our organization encourages public and private support for the victims of sexual assault as well as prosecution of the perpetrators of the crime. No matter how a child is conceived, abortion remains an act of injustice toward that child, a human being truly present and living within the womb. The injustice done to the woman cannot be undone and is compounded by an injustice toward her innocent child who is conceived from the assault. The advocates of abortion in cases of sexual assault imply that pregnancies resulting from such acts are common. In fact, conception from rape is known to be very rare.

Right to Life of Michigans primary opposition to abortion is grounded in reasoned reflection on the scientific facts about the being who is present in the womb or the petri dish: that being is, from the moment of conception, an indisputably living, human individual. There is no point during the continuum of fetal development, from conception to birth, where one could, without arbitrariness, identify a break in that continuum, a point before which that living human individual could be said to be nonliving, nonhuman, not an individual being. We further observe that any criterion that could be applied to question or deny the full humanity of the unborn child could also be applied, with equal arbitrariness, to many other living human individuals who all people understand to be fully human; i.e., the comatose, the physically disabled, the mentally impaired, the infant.

What advocates of abortion seem unable to grasp or unwilling to concede are the obvious: that the unborn, particularly in the early states of development, look like what living human individuals look like at that point in their lives.

Right to Life of Michigan rejects as specious and arbitrary the assertion that, while the unborn child may be a living human individual, it is not a person and, therefore, need not be accorded legal rights, such as the right not to be killed without due process. Before it is a legal right, the right not to be killed without justification is a natural, unalienable human right possessed by all living human individuals. To say that it is unalienable means that it is not a right that is granted or bestowed by society or by the state. It is a right possessed by nature, by what a human being is. The right to life became a legal right because it was recognized to be a basic natural right that the state was obligated to protect. That right to life may be acknowledged by the state. It may be ignored by the state. But it is not dependent for its existence on the state.

For that reason, Right to Life of Michigan rejects the assertion that the unborn child may be aborted because it is unwanted. Being wanted tells us about the attitude of the outsider toward the unborn child; it does not tell us anything about the nature of the child. The natural right to life of any living human individual is not dependent upon and, therefore, cannot be negated by the desires or attitudes of others. No living human individual can be someone elses property or an object of property rights or claims of disposition, as the unwantedness argument implies. Moreover, we know from the long lists of people waiting to adopt that, in fact, there is no unborn child who is not wanted by someone.
(April 10, 1996)

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Adoption

In the interest of protecting human life and offering women in crisis pregnancy situations viable alternatives to abortion, Right to Life of Michigan fully supports the option of adoption. In supporting this, we realize that adoption will not be the choice of every woman facing a crisis pregnancy, but it is a choice that should be available in her decision making.

While there is a surplus of families waiting several years to adopt a child into their home, there are women today being convinced that abortion or child rearing are their only choices. It is important that women in this crisis situation be presented with the life giving choice of adoption and to be informed of the resources available to them.

In every adoption situation, there are three primary parties involved: the child, birth parents and adoptive parents. We recognize and wish to emphasize that the needs and special interests of each of these parties should be given utmost consideration. We also wish to reaffirm and support the secondary parties to adoption: adoption agencies, government institutions, abortion alternative centers, and other supportive organizations.

Our efforts to promote adoption will be directed in three major areas: education, procedural and legal improvements, and enhancing maternal and adoption support services.

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Civil Disobedience

The movement to support human life and to oppose abortion involves a great diversity of individuals and organizations with each contributing in different ways towards the goal of protecting the unborn child.

Right to Life of Michigan, a non-profit corporation, and its affiliates have decided through years of consensus planning to focus our energies and resources on education, legislative lobbying activities and political action to achieve our goals. We have always opposed, and continue to oppose, actions that are contrary to the law.

Other individuals and groups believe that civil disobedience is a legitimate approach in waging a campaign against abortion.

Without in any way judging individuals who choose this approach, Right to Life of Michigan and its affiliates reaffirm their dedication to lawful efforts to protect the unborn and have rejected any RLM participation in civil disobedience.

The board of RLM must be particularly concerned with the potential liability of the organization in the event of lawsuits surrounding civil disobedience activities. For this reason, it is essential that RLM, its affiliates and members, avoid any INVOLVEMENT WHATSOEVER OF THE ORGANIZATION in any of the following activities:

1. Use of the Right to Life of Michigan name or designation of individual participants in civil disobedience activities as members or leaders of Right to Life of Michigan.

2. Participation in or support for civil disobedience or other unlawful activities as RLM affiliates or as RLM representatives.

3. Raising money as RLM affiliates or representatives or providing RLM funds or assistance to any group involved in civil disobedience.

4. Use of RLM membership or mailing lists for any activity involving groups involved in civil disobedience or other unlawful activities.

Of course, these policies do not preclude any individual from acting on the basis of his or her own conscience. They are designed to isolate the RLM corporation and its affiliates from activities where RLM and its affiliates may be inadvertently linked with activities which would subject the corporation and their board members to legal charges and financial claims.

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Euthanasia

Right to Life of Michigan opposes all attempts to legalize or condone euthanasia. While once commonly understood as "mercy killing," the term "euthanasia" now encompasses acts from lethal injection, to "assisting" in suicide, to withholding basic levels of care from non-terminal patients. In all cases of euthanasia, the action or omission is expressly intended to cause the death of a person.

By contrast, Right to Life of Michigan supports the tradition which allows persons suffering from a terminal illness to die naturally. Under this centuries-old ethic, patients are not obligated to use extraordinary or heroic medical treatment that would only prolong the dying process. Ordinary care and treatment should be provided to all patients to sustain their daily needs and comfort. When a person has clearly reached their "last days," the focus of medical treatment may be switched from curing to caring, but never to killing.

In the name of true human dignity, we commend those in the medical profession who have committed themselves to advancing pain and symptom management and hospice care. Real compassion for the dying comes through meeting all their needs, physical, emotional, and spiritual. The goal must be to eliminate suffering, not the persons who suffer.

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Human Cloning

Until February 1997, the human cloning of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World was a futuristic, science fiction scenario. On February 27, 1997, the chills of reality went down our spines with the announcement that English scientists had cloned a sheep named Dolly. Promptly following this news, researchers in Oregon on March 1, 1997, announced that a Rhesus monkey had been cloned. The reality of animal cloning stares us in the face and human cloning is around the corner. Science has an unquenchable thirst to do what is possible, sometimes without regard to moral implications.

Proponents of human cloning rush forward with proposals for its use that on the surface appear benevolent. Advocates mention replacing a dead child with a genetic twin or creating a reservoir of genetically-matched material for spare parts for diseased organs such as bone marrow, livers, kidneys, etc. The National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) has recommended that clones grown outside the womb could provide genetic advances for fighting diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Parkinson's disease and cancer. Individuals and groups are stepping out to be identified as "pro-clone." The right to choose philosophy, with which prolife groups are so familiar, will be the ultimate justification for these individuals.

Cloning, also called "somatic cell nuclear transfer (donor cell)," involves a transfer of a nucleus of a somatic cell (any 'body' cell other than an egg or sperm) to an egg that has had its nucleus removed. This egg is stimulated by a tiny electrical current to begin to develop. The embryo later is transferred from the lab to the host uterus to complete the development of the new individual. This new individual is not an exact duplicate of the donor since a small genetic contribution is made by the mitochondrial DNA of the host cell.

In response to the introduction of Dolly, President Clinton charged the NBAC with making recommendations on human cloning. On June 9, 1997, based on the NBAC report, the President released his "Cloning Prohibition Act of 1997," stating, "Banning human cloning reflects our humanity. It is the right thing to do. Creating a child through this new method calls into question our most fundamental beliefs." This act, however, is only a temporary, five-year ban prohibiting cloned humans from being created and born. It does allow federally funded unrestricted research on cloned embryonic human beings. The 'moratorium' announced by the President on federally funded research applies only to research intended to "create [bring to birth] a human being."

Right to Life of Michigan finds human cloning to be an inherent violation of human dignity. As with abortion and assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization, human cloning research denies the most fundamental of human rights -- the right to life. The research process inevitably requires scientists to destroy and discard their 'failed' experiments. For example, it took 277 attempts at cell manipulation and 29 embryo implants before the sheep, Dolly, was produced.

Cloning would further violate human dignity by denying the intrinsic value of each human life, thereby viewing human beings as products or commodities. For this same reason we already oppose surrogate parenting contracts, genetic screening of embryos before uterine implanting and sex selection abortion. Cloning could not possibly respect the intrinsic value of the person created, because a cloned person will not be created simply for their value as a person. There will always be an intended and specific utility attached to a cloned person because he or she was created with a particular genetic make-up for some purpose. Any action taken to create or destroy human beings based on their genetic qualities denies their intrinsic value.

Right to Life of Michigan strongly advocates for the passage of tightly written legislation at the national and state level that will permanently ban all human cloning including research on embryos. If human cloning proceeds, our minds can conjure up many scenarios of abuse of human cloning as our narcissistic society creates human beings not in God's own image but in our own.

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March of Dimes

Since January 1976, Right to Life of Michigan has adopted a non-support policy toward March of Dimes. This was adopted only after a three-year study of March of Dimes activities and publications, and after a high level meeting with MOD national and state officers.

The crux of our difference is the amniocentesis testing for "defective" babies in utero which MOD sponsors and promotes. Such tests cannot be made before the 14th to 18th weeks of pregnancy and take an additional four to six weeks for results. Between 95 percent and 100 percent of the "defectives" thus identified are destroyed in second trimester abortions. An additional 1 percent of babies tested are miscarried as a result of the test.

These figures are taken from two studies done by or assisted by MOD in 1975 and 1979. Whenever treatment can take place in the womb, RLM supports and encourages it, but the overwhelming majority of defects tested for have no known treatment or cure.

MOD at no time has directly funded abortions but it has inaugurated a massive nationwide movement whose aim is to make amniocentesis testing a customary medical procedure in mid trimester pregnancy. It has become our personal experience in recent years that pregnant women, especially in their mid-30's, are being pressured by their doctors to have the test.

We have made it clear to MOD that we admire their great good works of the past as well as those going forward today. We have asked them to drop this facet of their program but their response has been negative, and until it changes our policy must remain in place.

We truly sympathize with parents of handicapped and suspected handicapped in utero, but feel that unwavering defense of the unborn, the sick, the well, the helpless as well as the helping, must be the starting point from which we tackle society's problems.

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Rape and Incest

Abortion is not the answer to a pregnancy which is the result of sexual assault. When a woman is raped and becomes pregnant, the woman and unborn child are the victims. Using abortion to end a crisis pregnancy does nothing to alleviate the rape. It merely allows society to forget about the rape and pretend that justice has been done, leaving the woman to deal with the emotions of the assault and abortion often alone.

In the case of incest, abortion actually protects the perpetrator of the crime by concealing the incestuous act. Incest represents a family situation where help is needed.

When the life of the mother is in danger, many times a doctor can treat both the mother and unborn child separately. Because of medical advances, it is rare that the child's life cannot also be saved. In those rare cases, the intent is not to kill the child but to try to save both lives if medically possible. Before the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decisions legalizing all abortions, the standard abortion law, including Michigan's, had an exception for the life of the mother.

It is absolutely indisputable that the life within the womb is a unique human being. To say that this irreplaceable life can be deliberately destroyed for any reason denies the intrinsic humanity of the unborn.

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Violence

Peaceful solutions to the violence of abortion is the goal of Right to Life of Michigan. For over two decades our members have marched, educated, lobbied, and voted for peaceful solutions to the violent ending of life. Each day, during every abortion procedure, babies are dismembered and women often suffer long-lasting physical and psychological harm. The violence of abortion kills approximately 1.5 million babies each year.

Any bombings, vandalism, assaults, or arson in other parts of the nation against abortion facilities concern Right to Life of Michigan. To counter violence with violence is against our principles. Prolifers have consistently worked peacefully through the democratic process in order to reach our goal - the end of violence within clinic walls. We are a peaceful movement.

Clearly, the actions against abortion clinics are unrelated to Right to Life of Michigan and its legislative and educational efforts. We reject any attempts to link these isolated incidents to the Michigan prolife movement which is composed of citizens throughout the state who are committed to restoring the civil rights of the unborn child and additionally to helping the woman facing a problem pregnancy.

A resolution adopted on February 22, 1995, by the Michigan House of Representatives called for an end to violence against abortion clinics and applauded the actions of Right to Life of Michigan in condemning such violent acts. Specifically, the resolution mentioned television ads that were created and aired throughout the state to inform Michigan citizens of Right to Life of Michigan's commitment to the philosophy of nonviolence.

There are peaceful alternatives to abortion. There have to be.

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(Updated December 5, 2000)

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