Michigan Pro-Life Prayer Rally Online Registration System Assailed by ‘Pro-Choice Cyber Attack,’ Organizers Say

The ‘Fight Like Heaven’ event will be held this Sunday, Nov. 6, ahead of the midterm vote on Proposal 3, a proposed abortion amendment. Bishop Robert Gruss of Saginaw is scheduled to lead the opening prayer at the rally.

(photo: Diocese of Saginaw / CC BY ND 2.0)

Out-of-state abortion backers appear to have interfered with a Michigan pro-life prayer event’s online registration system in what organizers characterized as a “pro-choice cyber attack.”

“A few days ago, we realized that many of our registrations were fake and coming from outside of Michigan,” Lori Becker, coordinator of outreach for the Diocese of Saginaw, said Nov. 3. “This caused our event to ‘sell out’ online, making it difficult for sincerely interested people to register.”

The Fight Like Heaven” Ecumenical Prayer Rally” event will go ahead this Sunday, Nov. 6, at Saginaw’s Horizons Conference Center. Attendees will pray for the defeat of Proposal 3.

The proposed amendment to the Michigan Constitution would legalize abortion to the point of birth and have other broad effects, including ending parental-consent laws for minors seeking an abortion.

At present, women in Michigan can obtain abortions for any reason before viability. After viability, abortion is permitted to save the woman’s life. State courts have currently blocked Michigan’s long-standing near-total ban on abortions. The ban has been part of state law since 1931 but was unenforceable under Roe v. Wade.

Becker said organizers of the rally had asked attendees to register to help with preparations. However, phony registrations came in from IP addresses in Portland, Oregon; Boston; Chicago; and New York City.

Many phony registrations appeared to come from pro-life organizations, which helped conceal the interference from organizers. However, some registrations appeared to be associated with abortion facilities.

“We have been advised to report this to the authorities,” Erin Carlson, communications director with the Diocese of Saginaw, told CNA. “Whether there is anything that can be done, I’m not certain.”

“We must all be alert because in our defense of human life, we may become the target of organizations that even attempt to interfere with prayer,” Carlson said, adding that prayers are “powerful.”

“We are grateful to God that we uncovered what was happening ahead of Sunday,” she said.

Michigan’s Catholic bishops have been outspoken against Proposition 3, calling it “an immense threat to the dignity of human life” in an Oct. 10 letter.

At Sunday’s rally, Bishop Robert Gruss of Saginaw is scheduled to lead the opening prayer.

“My hope and prayer is that this attempt to sabotage our prayer event will backfire and instead motivate people to join us,” Bishop Gruss said in a Nov. 3 statement. “Michigan women and children deserve better than the unjust Proposal 3.”

Jennifer McDonald and Matt Lohr, producers of the I Didn’t Know video opposing Prop. 3, will speak at the rally. The video, less than six minutes in length, has more than 130,000 views on YouTube. It was created by members of Grace Lutheran Church in Coopersville, Michigan.

Other speakers include faith leaders and pro-life leaders, such as Alveda King, a niece of civil-rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Among the Catholic speakers scheduled are a Catholic high-school teacher, a representative of the Michigan Catholic Conference, and a local director of the post-abortive ministry Rachel’s Vineyard.

Proposal 3 would allow late-term abortions due to an undefined mental-health exemption in the proposal. It would define viability to apply only to children who can survive without extraordinary medical care, the Michigan bishops’ letter warned.

Additionally, the proposed amendment would repeal existing laws requiring informed consent for abortion and parental-consent requirements for teens seeking an abortion, they said. It would also repeal existing laws requiring abortion facilities to be licensed and inspected for health-and-safety reasons.

Further, the proposal would allow anyone to perform an abortion and prohibit any legal consequences if a woman is harmed. Michigan’s Catholic bishops have warned that its broad language would codify a right for minors to seek sterilization and purported gender-transition procedures.

Surveys indicate declining voter support for the abortion measure, though defeat is uncertain. An Emerson College Polling survey of Michigan voters conducted in October reported that 52% planned to vote Yes on Proposal 3. Previous surveys showed as many as 64% of voters planned to vote for the measure.

Bishop Gruss reflected on the interference with the Saginaw pro-life rally.

“It appears there are people from outside of our state who want to influence our state constitution through Proposal 3,” Bishop Gruss said. He added that more than $20 million in funding to back the abortion measure has come from six people or organizations based outside of Michigan.

The funds are going to Proposal 3’s backer, the Michigan group Reproductive Freedom for All. In the last fundraising quarter, the Michigan pro-abortion-rights group received $5.2 million from the “dark money” group the Sixteen Thirty Fund; $4.5 million from the Open Society Policy Center, the lobbying arm of influential billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundations; $2 million from the billionaire former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg; and $4 million from Nishad Singh, an engineering executive at the Bahamas-based cryptocurrency exchange company FTX, according to the news site Bridge Michigan.

Reproductive Freedom for All received $34.1 million between July 21 and Oct. 23, mainly from “dark money” groups that are not required to disclose donors.

Citizens to Support MI Women and Children, the coalition opposing Proposal 3, raised $16.5 million in the previous quarter. In that period, Right to Life Michigan gave $9.2 million, the Michigan Catholic Conference gave $5.9 million, and the Catholic dioceses of Saginaw and Lansing gave $100,000 each.