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Anti-abortion group has plan to get around governor's promised veto of abortion bills

The anti-abortion group Right to Life of Michigan is working to bypass Governor Gretchen Whitmer's expected veto of controversial abortion legislation.

The state House and Senate voted along party lines on Tuesday to ban a second trimester abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation.

Chris Gast, the spokesman for Right to Life of Michigan, said the group has filed the initial paperwork with the Secretary of State to launch a petition drive that would send the bills back to the Legislature if Whitmer vetoes them.

"Our goal is to collect 400,000 signatures to initiate the legislation into the Legislature so they can pass it, bypassing the Governor entirely," said Gast.

Under the Michigan Constitution, lawmakers are permitted to enact voter-initiated legislation without the Governor's signature.

"If they fail to pass it, then it goes to the ballot," Gast said. "But since we know that we've had majority votes on the identical bills in both cases, we know we have the votes."

Gast said he's confident Right to Life can get the signatures needed for the petition.

According to Gast, Right to Life of Michigan has used the petition process to get voter-initiated legislation enacted four times in the past, including a ban on Medicaid funding for abortion, a ban on intact dilation and extraction, parental consent for abortions, and most recently, preventing insurance coverage from covering abortion automatically.

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