Vigneron calls on faithful to defeat abortion-rights ballot measure

Myesha Johnson
The Detroit News

Catholic followers in the Archdiocese of Detroit marked Respect Life Month on Sunday with a sermon led by Archbishop Vigneron celebrating the ruling that overturned a national right to an abortion. Respect Life Month was established in the U.S. Catholic Church in 1972, months before the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide. Sunday's church service was one of two special Masses coordinated by the archdiocese this year.

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, center, prepares to give the message during mass at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit on Oct. 2, 2022.

At the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Woodward Avenue in Detroit, the archbishop called for congregants to vote against "Proposal 3’s 'anything goes' approach to abortion and a redoubling of efforts to support women, children and families in need."

"It's good that we thank the Lord that it was on ... the Sacred Heart of Jesus earlier this year that we learned about the overcoming of Roe v. Wade decision. The victory on behalf of the innocent Lord. The victory of life," Vigneron said.

"The challenge that we face very directly in the election (Nov. 8), because then the citizens of Michigan will decide an issue of paramount importance in order to protect the inherent God-given dignity of all people," Vigneron said. "God invites us to say 'No,' to Proposition 3. A proposition that would enshrine a radical anti-life regime in the Michigan Constitution."

He called the proposal "dangerous" and with "vast, extreme consequences" because its "vague wording would result in elimination of dozens of publicly supported laws," like those that prohibit taxpayer-funded abortion, parental consent of abortion procedures for minors and more.

Proposal 3 calls for enshrining a state constitutional right to "reproductive freedom." The Michigan Supreme Court in September ordered the proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot, overruling a deadlocked Board of State Canvassers, ordering the four-member panel to certify the ballot proposal as Prop 3.

Sisters from Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist during mass at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit on Oct. 2, 2022.

Laura Marie Kendrick, a member of the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, who attended church Sunday, said she supported the archbishop's comments. "It was an excellent homily," adding that she has already voted against Proposal 3.

The service included several other anti-abortion prayers led by the priests.

"I really appreciate the archbishop celebrating the Mass today for Respect Life Sunday, he was here for a moment, and that was wonderful. He's been a pro-life supporter since ... the 90s ...," said Deborah Bloomfield, Life Chain in Michigan volunteer director.

Bloomfield and about 10 other members of the organization stood outside of the cathedral with anti-abortion signs saying, "Abortion Kills Children," and "Pregnant? Need Help?" facing east and westbound traffic on Woodward Avenue.

Bloomfield has been in support of the organization for over 12 years along with her six children.

"The Life Chain is really a prayer opportunity and we ask people to be praying as the cars drive by that hearts will be changed and softened," Bloomfield said. "We were really pleased that the archbishop was preaching on the topic of protecting life and defeating Proposal 3."

Planned Parenthood on Sunday said it was working to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution.

“We know that a clear majority of Michiganders – including 57% of Michigan Catholics – support Proposal 3 and want abortion to remain safe and legal in our state," said Ashlea Phenicie, communications director at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. "When it comes to deeply personal decisions about pregnancy, we all deserve to make our own decisions with the advice of our doctors, our loved ones and the faith leaders we trust, not politicians. From now until Election Day, we will be working with Michiganders from every corner of the state, every walk of life and every faith tradition to ensure supporters of Proposal 3 make their voices heard at the ballot box and restore the protections of Roe in Michigan.”

A poll commissioned by The Detroit News and WDIV-TV (Channel 4) and conducted Aug. 29 through Sept. 1 found that 60% of likely Michigan voters support the proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion rights in Michigan. The poll also found that the state should maintain its law requiring girls under the age of 18 seeking an abortion to have written approval from a parent or guardian.

The poll by Glengariff Group has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The poll also found that 49% of respondents said the overall question of abortion rights, rather than ensuring parental consent, would be more important. 4% said both would be factors in their vote, and 9% were undecided. Independent voters said guaranteeing a constitutional right to an abortion would be more important by 45% to 38% who said parental consent was more important.

Michigan's 1931 abortion law, which faces challenge in the courts, finds no exceptions for rape or incest and bans abortion unless to save the mother's life.