Opinion: Time to end gruesome abortion procedure

Tom Barrett

Earlier this year, the state of New York enacted a law eliminating nearly all reasonable restrictions related to abortion and repealing criminal charges for harming unborn children. It also allowed abortions to occur virtually up to the time of natural birth.

Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, represents Michigan’s 24th District.

New York’s action is an example of a disturbing trend to allow abortion on demand — devaluing human life and tearing at our morality as a nation.

Michigan, on the other hand, has a long tradition of protecting vulnerable, unborn lives. In that tradition, I was proud to recently introduce legislation to prohibit the violent practice known as dismemberment abortion, which is a direct affront to the sanctity of life.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, this procedure accounted for 1,777 abortions reported in our state in 2017 and represented more than 80 percent of late-term abortions.

Much like partial-birth abortion, dismemberment abortion shocks the conscience, and it’s time we do something about it. The procedure is hard to adequately describe without sickening people, but essentially a doctor uses an instrument to dismember and remove a living and developed fetus in pieces — limb by limb.

Senate Bills 229 and 230 would expand the state’s existing partial-birth abortion ban to stop doctors from performing dismemberment procedures as well. Notably, the proposed laws include an exemption to protect the life of the mother and would punish the person performing the dismemberment abortion, not a woman seeking or obtaining it.

I know that “dismemberment abortion” is a graphic term, but it accurately describes what my legislation seeks to stop. Each time one of these innocents are ripped apart in the womb, we are ripping away the unique potential of that child, all of her dreams and ambitions, and the joy that child would bring to others.

If you feel alarmed by this, you are not alone. According to a May 2018 Gallup poll, over 80 percent of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in the last three months of pregnancy and 65 percent think it should be banned in the second trimester as well.

In 2008, the Michigan Legislature passed a partial-birth abortion ban that provides the basis for this legislation with wide bipartisan majorities in a Republican-controlled Senate and a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.

During my military deployments, I witnessed the devastating ripple effects that fall upon a culture that places no value on human life. Today, I have the privilege of serving as the only Iraq War veteran in the Michigan Senate, and I am committed through this legislation to protecting and defending the vulnerable and voiceless here at home.

In doing so, we can ensure that our laws uphold the values of the people in this state and the conscience of our nation. I hope the rest of my colleagues will join me in supporting these bills.

If we cannot agree that all life is worthy of protection, including those of the unborn, then we can at least agree that there are limits to what we are willing to accept in a civilized society.

Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, represents Michigan’s 24th District.