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On Monday, August 2nd the City of Hillsdale, Michigan will be considering an ordinance to outlaw abortion within their city limits. Hillsdale, which is home to Hillsdale College, is a city whose strong conservative reputation is known throughout the United States.

The ordinance in the Hillsdale City Council packet for their August 2nd meeting is not designated an emergency ordinance. According to Michigan law no ordinance can be voted on at the meeting it is introduced unless it is an emergency ordinance. This does not mean that the the City Council does not have to wait weeks to pass the ordinance, however. Many in the community, including members of Hillsdale Right To Life, are advocating for an emergency meeting to be called in order that the Sanctuary City for the Unborn Ordinance can see immediate passage. If the City of Hillsdale passes the ordinance they will be the first city in Michigan to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion.

The proposed Hillsdale Michigan Ordinance states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to procure or perform an abortion of any type and at any stage of pregnancy in the city of Hillsdale, Michigan” and “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the city of Hillsdale,Michigan.” Abortion is defined by the ordinance as “the act of using or prescribing an instrument, a drug, a medicine, or any other substance, device, or means with the intent to cause the death of an unborn child of a woman known to be pregnant.” The Ordinance is clear that the term does not include birth-control devices or oral contraceptives. The Ordinance is also clear that the act is not an abortion if the act is done with the intent to “save the life or preserve the health of an unborn child”, “remove a dead, unborn child whose death was caused by accidental miscarriage,” or “remove an ectopic pregnancy.”

There is one other exception listed in the Ordinance and that is a very narrow exception for cases where the mother’s life is at risk. This is listed as an affirmative defense and falls upon the one performing the abortion to provide that defense if necessary. This is outlined by the Ordinance as abortions in cases where the abortion is “in response to a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that, as certified by a physician, places the woman in danger of death or a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless an abortion is performed.”

Besides outlawing abortion, the Hillsdale Ordinance declares abortion-inducing drugs to be contraband stating “It shall be unlawful for any person to possess or distribute abortion-inducing drugs in the Hillsdale, Michigan, and it shall be unlawful for any person to mail or ship abortion-inducing drugs into the city of Hillsdale, Michigan.” The Ordinance defines “abortion-inducing drugs” as “mifepristone, misoprostol, and any drug or medication that is used to terminate the life of an unborn child.” The Ordinance is clear that “the term also does not include drugs or medication that are possessed or distributed for a purpose that does not include the termination of a pregnancy.”

The Hillsdale, Michigan Ordinance, like the other Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn ordinances, is enforceable. Those who are found in violation of the ordinance are subject to a fine of $500.00 and imprisonment for 90 days, and each violation shall constitute a separate offense. This prosecution or penalty contains only one exception: “Under no circumstance may the penalty be imposed on the mother of the unborn child that has been aborted, or the pregnant woman who seeks to abort her unborn child, be subject to prosecution or penalty” 

Both Section 22.66 entitled “Abortion” and Section 22.67 entitled “Abortion Coverage Prohibited in Employer-Provided Health Insurance” are not dependent upon the overturning of Roe v. Wade or any other court ruling, but are immediately enforceable.

Section 22.68 entitled “Abortions Performed Outside City Limits,” on the other hand, contains delayed enforcement. Section 22.68 cannot be enforced by the City of Hillsdale, any of their officers or employees, the district or county attorney, or any executive or administrative officer or employee of any state or local governmental entity. That is, unless or until the Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey and permits states and municipalities to punish anyone who violates an abortion prohibition, or a state or federal court enters a declaratory judgment or rules that the imposition or threatened imposition of the penalty will not impose an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions, or a state or federal court enters a declaratory judgment or rules that the person, corporation, or entity that committed the unlawful act lacks third-party standing to assert the rights of women seeking abortions in court.

The Hillsdale, Michigan Ordinance also allows for private citizens to file civil lawsuits against any person who violates or intends to violate Section 22.66, Section 22.67, or Section 22.68 of the ordinance outlawing abortion in Hillsdale, Michigan. This action is also not dependent upon the overturning of Roe v. Wade or any other court ruling, but is immediately enforceable.

The effort to see abortion outlawed in the City of Hillsdale, Michigan is being led by Hillsdale Right To Life with assistance from Right To Life of East Texas. Heather Tritchka, Vice President of Hillsdale Right To Life, shared, “There is strong support to stop Biden’s initiative in Hillsdale. If there is a community who is willing to stand up and do the right thing, it’s Hillsdale.” Tritcha continued, “If our leadership passes this ordinance they will not be going against the majority. I have gone door to door to all of the different wards in our city and we have received enthusiastic support for this initiative. The people want to see this done.” Hillsdale Right To Life reported over 400 signatures in favor of the initiative in just a matter of days. 

Left to Right: Right To Life of East Texas Director Mark Lee Dickson, Hillsdale Right To Life Vice President Heather Tritchka, and Hillsdale Right To Life President Bud Vear (courtesy of Mark Lee Dickson)

The initiative has also gained support from Michigan Representative Andrew Fink, who released a statement on the Michigan House Republicans website, stating, “As a father and legislator, I am proud of the work being done by pro-life advocates in our local community to advance this important initiative that reflects the family values of our area.” Representative Fink explained,

“The premise of this measure is simple: no longer would abortion procedures or abortion-inducing drugs be legal within the city bounds of Hillsdale. 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. I’m proud of our community and its steadfast support for the human rights of our defenseless unborn population.”

Representative Fink closed his public statement commending the members of the City Council for taking up the initiative and encouraged them to adopt the ordinance which “reflects the crucial values of the local citizens they represent.”

On August 4th the City of Eastland, Texas (pop. 3,970) will be taking their second and final vote on an ordinance outlawing abortion within their city limits. If the City of Eastland passes their ordinance they will become the 31st city in Texas to outlaw abortion within their city limits. 

Jonathan F. Mitchell, the former Texas Solicitor General, has offered to represent the city of Hillsdale at no cost to the city and taxpayers for any litigation which results from the passage of the proposed ordinance.

If Hillsdale were to pass the ordinance outlawing abortion this next week they will be the fifth city in the nation to outlaw abortion since the lawsuit by Planned Parenthood against the City of Lubbock was dismissed in Federal Court. It would also be the 21st city to outlaw abortion since the ACLU withdrew its lawsuit against seven cities in East Texas. Other political subdivisions expected to vote in August include Leona, Texas (pop. 190), Eastland, Texas (pop. 3,970), and Manatee County, Florida (pop. 412,119).

Cover photo is the Hillsdale, MI City Hall and courtesy of Mark Lee Dickson

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Mark Lee Dickson is a Director with Right to Life of East Texas, a Pastor of SovereignLOVE Church in Longview, Texas, and the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative.

The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.