Protect Life MI and other anti-abortion rights advocates held a protest against Proposal 3 and abortion-related issues on Saturday, Jan. 28.
Executive Director of Protect Life MI Christen Pollo said there is a lot of hostility surrounding anti-abortion rights leaders and the march could incite the government change the organization would want to see from the pro-abortion majority in the State Legislature, instead of content for its mission.
“We're really hoping to encourage people with a winning strategy for the future with unity as we move forward together in the face of great injustice,” Pollo said. “I would say one of the core reasons for this march, in addition, is celebrating the fact that Roe is finally overturned and mourning the loss of life that it brought about, we're also looking to show our state leaders that we are not backing down.”
While Pollo said the group has become more politically strategic since the 2022 elections, she said she does not see a lot of legislative changes coming soon, but has not lost hope. They hope to equip a new generation of leaders in their fight, showing the government that they will not forget about their mission.
“I think the government has a responsibility to help and we're going to hold their feet to the fire, so to speak, when it comes to supporting women with non-violent solutions,” Pollo said. “We also have to do everything that we can to help people think more negatively about abortion.”
In her speech at the Capitol, Pollo quoted former President Abraham Lincoln, and said “you cannot have the right to do what is wrong."
Pollo said that the passage of Proposal 3 has dimmed the progress of their group, but her fellow advocates should not back down from the chance things will change in state politics.
“We think we would have risked our lives to stop the Nazis,” Pollo said in her speech. “We think we would have marched in the streets against segregation, but how can we be so certain that we would have been part of the solution if we're so paralyzed by fear when it comes to speaking out against the injustice of our day, especially when it costs us so much less than what it costs those who came before us.”
Cornerstone University student and Protect Life MI student leader Emilia Vriesman was also a speaker at the march. She said that her biggest purpose was to glorify God, and fight injustice, and Proposal 3 was part of that mission. She said God dropped the student leadership position in her lap.
“God has a perfect plan,” Vriesman said in her speech. “I don't understand what he's doing right now, but I know that it will work out for his glory and the flourishing of his people. We simply have to be faithful and take action against the injustice happening around us.”
Founder and president of the Life Training Institute and author of "The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture" Scott Klusendorf also spoke at the march. He started his speech by noting the temperature of the day and said it was “colder today than Gretchen Whitmer’s reception may be at the pearly gates.”
His speech centered around the idea of pushing back against the criticisms of the pro-abortion rights advocates, telling the crowd to not pay attention when the other side is asking them what they are doing for other aspects of society other than aiding the unborn, such as “the environment” or “the poor." He said these questionings are ways for the other side to distract them from their mission ahead and that they cannot be responsible for every problem in society.
“They say it to you, that because you oppose the intentional killing of an innocent human being, you have to fix everything wrong with society,” Klusendorf said in his speech. “That is unfair. Don't let them saddle you with that. You are doing good work saving children and you don't need to apologize for it at all.”
March-attendee Angela Restuccia said she thinks now is the time to have these marches and conversations as the state is split on what beliefs should be held in law, even if these conversations commenting on the shortcomings of Proposal 3 are not comfortable.
Proposal 3 was passed in the 2022 election, with 56.6% voting in favor and 43.3% voting against.
“I think some of my fears are the fact that [it’s] opening the floodgates [and] Pandora's box to a lot of bad things … talking about parental consent laws and infringing on that, which is pretty problematic, as well as … making Michigan this flag state [to] become more prominent in the abortion industry,” Restuccia said.
Restuccia said that women are being targeted and oppressed by pro-abortion rights advocates and believes the anti-abortion rights groups have more to offer women, with security and the opportunity to raise their children in a safe environment.
Knights of Columbus member Mark Stenske came to the Capitol to celebrate and show solidarity for life, not protest.
Stenske sees the solution to abortion from the donations and volunteers across the anti-abortion rights movement pointed towards crisis pregnancy centers, giving resources to those dealing with the decision of abortion or keeping their child. Stenske's biggest problem with Proposal 3 is that he believes the government is pushing the choice of abortion by providing taxpayer-funded abortions.
“As a pro-life movement, we need to continue providing that message to our leaders, they're representing all of the people,” Stenske said. “They're representing their children in the womb as well [and] they have responsibility there. As far as practically … we want laws that are going to protect women [and] promote strong families”
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He explained that everyone at the march was speaking for those who cannot speak, who he called "the unborn." He said conversations such as how people view human life are the most crucial to the anti-abortion mission.
“We are pro-choice, but we're promoting the choice that leads to life,” Stenske said.
Stenske also believes that abortion is a men’s issue. He said that there would be very few crisis pregnancies if men took responsibility for their own actions in the pregnancy and stepped up to the plate like “real men.”
Attendee Clare Otto brought her family, including her children, to the march because she believes the issue of abortion is generational, needing hands-on work from all community members to invoke real change. She said all people need to show out at these marches because “people matter.”
“No matter your age or your disability or gender, each human life is important and if we disregard one, we disregard all humans,” Otto said.
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