Editorial Roundup: Michigan

Detroit Free Press. June 24, 2022.

Editorial: Supreme Court ruling would make abortion illegal in Michigan. Voters can fix it.

In a 6-3 ruling Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its decision in Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that granted American women the right to end a pregnancy.

It is a titanic shift for all Americans of childbearing age. Roe has been the law of the land for their entire lives.

The implications of this court’s decision reach beyond whether any individual person chooses to end a pregnancy: The right the court conferred in Roe is bodily autonomy.

The Supreme Court’s decision to vacate its decision in Roe v. Wade means our state’s courts and voters must act swiftly to preserve the reproductive rights of Michigan women.

In Michigan, the high court’s repudiation of Roe v. Wade could revive a 1931 statute that made ending an unwanted pregnancy a felony. Unless state Supreme Court justices intervene, more than 2 million Michigan women of child-bearing age could be forced to carry unwanted or medically doomed pregnancies to term.

The recriminalization of abortion may just be the first in a cascade of rulings that eviscerate other privacy-based rights not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution. Writing for the majority, Alito attempts to ward off that fate, saying that the demise of Roe should not presage the overturn of other landmark cases, like Griswold v. Connecticut and Eisenstadt v. Baird, rulings that barred states from restricting access to birth control, or Obergefell v. Hodges, striking down laws against same-sex marriage.

But in a concurrence, Justice Clarence Thomas argues the reverse: The Court’s ruling in Dobbs, he writes, ought to prompt the review of other due-process cases.

Yet the threat before us is to the ability of women to control their own bodies.

Champions of reproductive freedom have been preparing for this day since former President Donald Trump appointed three anti-abortion conservatives to the court, and their efforts took on greater urgency this spring when a leaked draft opinion presaged today’s ruling. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Planned Parenthood of Michigan have asked state courts to declare that Michigan’s 91-year-old abortion ban violates the state constitution. A state court has issued an injunction barring enforcement of the 1931 law— meaning that despite the high court’s ruling, Michiganders can still access abortion care — but foes of abortion rights hope to overturn that injunction, restoring the force of the 1931 law.

A state court’s ruling in favor of abortion-rights advocates would blunt the impact of a U.S Supreme Court ruling overthrowing Roe.

The 7-2 Supreme Court majority in Roe v. Wade was on solid ground 49 years ago when it ruled that the federal Constitution protects every woman’s reproductive freedom, and we find the argument that Michigan’s state constitution does the same persuasive. But abortion foes would surely criticize any state Supreme Court ruling striking down Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban as judicial overreach, the same charge leveled against Roe.

The most satisfactory antidote to the crisis Justice Alito and his conservative colleagues have precipitated would be for Michigan voters to adopt a state constitutional amendment that explicitly forbids the state Legislature from interfering in the decisions Michigan women and their physicians make about birth control, pregnancy and childbirth.

Abortion rights activists have spent more than five months collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would put the issue squarely before voters this November. Under Michigan law, the grassroots coalition known as Reproductive Freedom for All has until July 11 to collect the signatures of 425,000 voters — 10% of the number who participated in Michigan’s 2018 gubernatorial election — in support of a proposed amendment to Michigan’s state constitution that reads as follows:

Every individual has a fundamental right to reproductive freedom, which entails the right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy, including but not limited to prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care. An individual’s right to reproductive freedom shall not be denied, burdened, nor infringed upon unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means. Notwithstanding the above, the state may regulate the provision of abortion care after fetal viability, provided that in no circumstance shall the state prohibit an abortion that, in the professional judgment of an attending health care professional, is medically indicated to protect the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant individual.

If the state Board of Canvassers certifies the required number of signatures, the proposed amendment would appear on the ballot in the statewide election scheduled for Nov. 8. If approved by a majority of voters, the amendment would re-establish the fundamental rights today’s Supreme Court ruling threatens to snatch away.

The Republican state Legislature’s record of adopting abortion restrictions that lack popular support is a powerful argument for enshrining reproductive autonomy in constitutional language that is immune to legislative tinkering.

And for Michigan women, reproductive autonomy — bodily autonomy — should be sacrosanct, enshrined in our foundational document, not to be granted at the whim of our Legislature.

Preventing the legal chaos that would be unleashed if Michigan’s abortion ban is abruptly resurrected is too important to defer until another election cycle, so it’s critical that Michigan voters have the opportunity to weigh in at the earliest possible moment. So we encourage all Michigan voters to who have not signed the petition being circulated by Reproductive Freedom for All to do so. Instructions are available at mireproductivefreedom.org.

Abortion opponents and advocates for reproductive choice both claim the support of a majority of Michigan voters. Surveys that invite voters to declare themselves either pro-life or pro-choice suggest a more closely divided electorate than those that measure support for restoring a wholesale ban. But when pollsters ask Michiganders who should make such decisions — a woman and her doctor, or the government — a clear majority selects the former.

Michigan voters have consistently rejected candidates for statewide office who support criminal prosecution of women who undergo abortions or physicians who perform them. A referendum would dispel any illusion that Michiganders desire a return to the pre-Roe past, or would tolerate such a catastrophic step backward.

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Traverse City Record-Eagle. June 26, 2022.

Editorial: Down but not out (of the woods)

Out of sight, out of mind. It’s so much our rule, not the exception, that history often repeats itself.

And when it does, memory comes flooding back — flooding being the operative word when it comes to our regional water levels.

Not too long ago, historic and beloved family cottages were torn down to avoid tumbling into Lake Michigan.

The Boardman River and its tributaries were uninvited guests into basements and boiler rooms, making chumps of sump pumps. Roads and parking lots fell into the water.

Traverse City found its limits in its sewer and wastewater systems and not-blue lagoons formed. State regulatory agencies softened their stances on shoreline hardening projects, as the lake bit into the eroding land.

Today’s U.S. Army Corps of Engineers numbers are hopeful — Lake Michigan and Huron hit 577.5 feet recently — 2 feet less than where they were in June 2020 and about 5 feet shallower than the eight-month peak of 582.2 feet — but long-term prospects are less sunny.

Even with the water levels receding, they’re still high in terms of the long-term averages, and experts predict that levels will continue to fluctuate dramatically and more frequently than in the past, as indicated by historical Army Corps data.

Keith Kompoltowicz, the Great Lakes Watershed Hydrology chief for the Army Corps, cited the chance for “more extreme conditions.”

Even the dramatic drop-off, though welcome, is noteworthy, as it could be part of a trend of quicker transitions from highs to lows, Kompoltowicz said.

Now new days bring new issues, and those of yesterday get bumped to the back.

But one constant we can rely on about water levels is change.

We would do well to remember that.

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The Mining Journal. June 24, 2022.

Editorial: Getting children their COVID shot is best thing to do

Since the time that vaccinations for the many COVID-19 permutations became available, The Mining Journal has been an unwavering voice of support for getting the shots.

That’s not to say we have opposed other forms of COVID-19 virus treatments. We haven’t. But overwhelmingly the science suggests that vaccinations give people the best chance of staying out of the hospital if they get sick with the coronavirus.

Now, parents and caregivers can get their children ages 6 months to 5 years inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines that has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration — so, once again we are recommending that young children be vaccinated.

The shots are now available locally.

“I urge parents to get their children vaccinated so they can enjoy their summer and get ready for the fall, knowing they are protected,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “Parents have been patiently waiting for a vaccine for younger children for years, and now we are ready to help our little ones get the best protection. I am grateful to every Michigander who has gotten their COVID vaccine, taking action to keep themselves and all our friends, families and neighbors safe.”

According to the Associated Press, Michigan has had more than 427,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in ages 19 and younger, and 44 deaths reported in newborns to age 19 as of June 15, MDHHS said.

To date, more than 6.7 million Michiganders have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Get your kids vaccinated. Is it a perfect solution? Nope. But given the nature of the COVID-19 beast, it’s the best thing we can do.

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