A Memo from Jenny: "Pro-life hope despite ballot disappointment"

Last week saw Right to Life of Michigan end its petition drive to ban dismemberment abortions across the state following a continuing challenge to the number of valid signatures from an opposition committee organized by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan.

This week the Diocese of Lansing’s Director of Fertility and Life Ministries, Jenny Ingles, wrote a memo to all parishes on why there is still great reason for great hope even amid the disappointment of the failed petition drive. Here is what Jenny had to say:

Dear Friends,

I had originally planned to dedicate this memo to my favorite encyclical, Humanae Vitae; to use this space to highlight some of the less discussed aspects of it. I had intended on sharing some of the practical applications I’ve discovered throughout the years.

Instead, it seems prudent to discuss the devastating news that the Petition to End Dismemberment Abortion failed its second chance of signature validation by the Michigan Bureau of Elections. Michigan Right to Life will not be challenging it so the fight for this particular petition has come to a close.

There’s already talk on the proverbial streets (or should I say the virtual streets) about the causes of the failure. Speculation ranges from a rigged validation process to Planned Parenthood plants who intentionally signed multiple petitions to fallout from the division caused by having two pro-life petitions hitting the streets at the same time.

While I cannot speak on any of these theories using facts (or even good conscience), I can, with immense pain in my heart reflect on something broader. There is hope. And there is opportunity.

Volunteers across the state dedicated countless hours to collecting signatures, finding venues that would allow them to collect signatures and taking verbal insults from their fellow citizens. Not only were they able to collect an incredible amount of signatures in a society hostile to Christian values, they brought awareness to the fact that dismemberment abortions can and do occur.

These men and women are amazing and I value and appreciate them more than I can express. This petition drive mobilized many, for the first time, to actively participate in pro-life efforts. And while it’s only anecdotal, we’ve seen an increase in Rachel’s Vineyard participants who are seeking healing from past abortions. This is hope. This is hope for a future of mobilized Catholics who will, eventually, see an end to abortion.

And there is opportunity. Despite the pain and heartache that so many have been suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic, the unique circumstances we’ve found ourselves in this year have pushed many to come up with new ways to reach people.

The lessons we’ve learned, and are still learning, during the pandemic can and are being translated into pro-life efforts. Our ability to reach women in crisis pregnancy situations is transforming. It is true that Planned Parenthood has been far more successful in Online platforms than the pro-life movement has, but that’s changing now.

I find no coincidence that 2020 marks the 25th year of the encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). This year is filled with hope and opportunity. We are preparing to launch a celebration of the encyclical along with the USCCB Walking with Moms in Need initiative.

This is an opportunity for us to assess how well we are able to assist women in crisis pregnancy situations and then make changes to more effectively serve those moms in need. While my heart is heavy at the failure of the petition drive, it simultaneously fills with hope renewed. Jesus, we trust in you.

Yours in Christ,