Abortion Groups Rally on Capitol Lawn

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

The head of a national "pro-Choice" group was in Lansing Tuesday for an abortion rights rally focused on access to contraceptives. But "pro-Life" forces in attendance made their voices heard as well.

"Pro-Choice" groups rallied at the Capitol, demanding insurance coverage for the birth control pill. Those groups have Governor Jennifer Granholm on their side.

"Insurance companies shouldn't cover Viagra if they don't cover 'the pill,' too," Granholm said.

The governor says forcing companies to cover the birth control pill will mean fewer abortions. But a bill making that plan a law sits stalled in the Michigan Senate.

The situation has local groups trying to elect more "pro-Choice" candidates come November's legislative, gubernatorial and congressional elections -- with the help of the head of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

"Elect people like Governor Granholm and Senator Stabenow who will move a prevention agenda forward. Who make solutions to the issues we're dealing with," President Nancy Keenan said.

The Michigan elections are all the more important to "pro-Choice" groups because some state governments are placing further restrictions on abortion. South Dakota recently outlawed abortion, except in cases where a mother's life is threatened.

"You have a president and a climate in this country that is very anti-choice," Keenan said.

But while Granholm and "pro-Choice" advocates had the stage Tuesday, a smaller group of "pro-Life" supporters stood in protest -- sometimes silently, sometimes vocally.

Joanie Barrett is the statewide president of a group of "pro-Life" college students. She says "pro-Choice" groups are right on target when they say abortion rights are under attack.

"'Pro-Lifers' are not going to stop ... We're going to keep fighitng until every human being is protected," Barrett said.

Just like the "pro-Choice" groups, "pro-Life" organizations are looking for candidates who share their views.

"I believe we have the chance to get rid of Governor Granholm come November. (Republican Challenger) Dick Devos is a great candidate. I think we can win," Barrett said.

And a win for "pro-Lifers" could signal the end of the contraceptive insurance bill "pro-Choicers" are pushing.

"I believe that abstinence is the best way," Barrett said.

Right now, Republicans -- the traditionally "pro-Life" party -- outnumber Democrats in the Michigan Senate 22 to 16.

If those numbers stay close to where they are, the contraceptive coverage bill may not have a strong chance of passing -- if it's ever put up for a vote.

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