Hillsdale proposes abortion ban, ‘spontaneous miscarriages’ would be open to prosecution

By: - August 4, 2021 12:12 pm

Hillsdale College, a nationally known center for conservative ideology, is located in Hillsdale, Mich. | Brother Atticus via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Hillsdale, a small city near the Ohio border best known as the home of conservative Hillsdale College, proposed an ordinance Monday that would ban abortions within the city limits and would it a “sanctuary city for the unborn.”

The ordinance would criminalize any person from performing abortions or providing abortion-inducing drugs at any stage of pregnancy in the city and would make it illegal to “aid or abet” an abortion that occurs within city limits, such as providing transportation, instructions or money for an abortion. 

Violation of the ordinance could be punishable up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. 

State Rep. Andrew Fink (R-Adams Twp.) said in a statement Friday that he supports Hillsdale’s ordinance and encourages the City Council to adopt it. 

“Our area is deeply rooted in family values and our people are longstanding defenders of the sanctity of life and the right to life that every U.S. citizen is entitled, including those still in the womb,” Fink said. “I’m proud of our community and its steadfast support for the human rights of our defenseless unborn population.”

This comes as the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide is on rocky ground. The U.S. Supreme Court, which has a strong right-wing majority, agreed to hear arguments on a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. 

As the Advance reported last week, Right to Life of Michigan and six Michigan Republican members of Congress have signed onto briefs calling for Roe to be overturned.

“At the state, local, and national level, we’ve watched Republican lawmakers and right-wing extremists launch attack after attack on the human right to safe, legal abortion,” said Sam Inglot, deputy director of Progress Michigan, a liberal advocacy group. “Everyone should have the right to make their own decisions about their reproductive health and be able to access the health care they need.”

Protesters at the Supreme Court in March 2020, when the justices were hearing arguments in June Medical Services LLC v. Russo | Robin Bravender

According to Planned Parenthood, Hillsdale does not currently have any clinics that provide abortion services, and the closest Planned Parenthood clinic is about 25 miles away in Jackson. 

A section of the ordinance would prevent Hillsdale residents from traveling outside of the city to get an abortion, but as long as the Roe v. Wade decision stands, this will not be enforceable. 

The proposed ordinance would also allow private citizens to file civil lawsuits against anyone who they believe violated, or intended to violate, the ordinance.

The ordinance does include an exception for accidental miscarriages, to remove an ectopic pregnancy or if the mother’s life is at risk. 

However, the ordinance states that any “spontaneous miscarriage” would be open to investigation and prosecution.

Right-wing efforts to create “sanctuary” municipalities took off in early 2020 in Michigan when some adopted resolutions affirming themselves as a “Second Amendment sanctuary county.”

In January 2020, state Rep. Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair) introduced House Resolution 219 to declare the entire state a Second Amendment sanctuary, as the Advance previously reported. The resolution never made it out of the Government Operations Committee. 

There are already 32 cities in the U.S. that have approved “sanctuary city for the unborn” ordinances. Most of them are in Texas, as well as two cities in Nebraska and one city in Ohio. 

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.