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Posted on Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

Before making choice for circuit court judge, voters must consider abortion stance

By Guest Column

On Nov. 6, Washtenaw County voters will fill the first vacant circuit court judge position in nearly two decades. With your vote, you may help to decide the futures of dozens, if not hundreds, of young women dealing with unwanted pregnancies, even those resulting from rape or incest. How can this be? Aren’t these matters determined by the Michigan Legislature and federal and state appellate courts?

In fact, whether a minor obtains an abortion may be determined by the decision of a single judge, acting under a state law that gives virtually total discretion to the judge. There is a stark difference on this issue between the two candidates for the open judge position, attorneys Carol Kuhnke and James Fink.

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Kuhnke is strongly pro-choice and has been endorsed by the Washtenaw County Democratic Party and the Ann Arbor Democratic Party.

Fink, who identifies himself as a Republican and has contributed money to many GOP candidates, is endorsed by Right to Life of Michigan. To obtain that endorsement, a candidate must oppose abortion in all cases, except to protect the life of the mother. The candidate must also support a Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, establishing legal “personhood” from the moment of conception.

The two candidates are seeking to replace Judge Melinda Morris, the only woman to ever serve as a Washtenaw County Circuit Judge, who is retiring.

The power of a single judge to make reproductive choice decisions for young women is part of a 1991 law which resulted from an initiative petition drive by Right to Life and other anti-choice forces.The law requires any young woman under the age of 18 to have the permission of a parent or a legal guardian to obtain an abortion, in any circumstances. If the young woman is unable to obtain that permission, or is afraid or unwilling to seek it, she can petition a court for a waiver of the parental consent requirement.

Any one of the five Washtenaw Circuit Court and two Probate Court judges may be assigned to hear these cases. During the last four years, there have been more than 125 of them.

It is impossible to know which judge or judges will be assigned to hear these cases in the future, but it certainly is possible that the newly-elected judge will decide some portion of them.

The statute says a waiver of parental consent should be granted if the court finds either of the following: 1) The minor is “sufficiently mature and well-enough informed” to make the decision independently of her parents or legal guardian, or 2) The waiver would be “in the best interests of the minor.” This language is broad and loose enough for the most pro-choice or anti-choice judge to find justification within in it for any decision.

The Right to Life position is to legally deny to every woman, no matter her age or maturity, the right to make a decision about whether to end a pregnancy, except when her life is endangered. The Human Life Amendment it supports would, essentially, make abortion a murder of a “person.” It is difficult to see how any judge who subscribes to the Right to Life position would ever find that a teenage girl should be given the option of deciding, on her own, whether to have an abortion, or would find that “murdering” her “unborn child” would be in her best interest.

Conversely, a pro-choice judge can't require a minor to have an abortion. The judge only rules on whether the young woman may make the decision.

In an ideal world, judges wouldn’t be involved in these matters, at all. Every teen dealing with an unwanted pregnancy would feel safe in discussing the matter with her parents, and they would reach a mutually acceptable decision. Unfortunately, that’s often not what happens.

In the worst cases, the pregnancy may result from rape by the young woman’s father or stepfather or her mother’s boyfriend. It is in these horrible situations where compassionate parental consideration is most likely to be absent, and a judge may be making the decision.

Before you make your choice for judge on Nov. 6, decide which candidate you think should be given the responsibility for these decisions.

Tom Wieder is a 44-year resident of Ann Arbor and retired attorney who has been active in Democratic Party organizations and campaigns for most of that time. He has History, Public Policy and Law Degrees from The University of Michigan.


Cathy Bowerman

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 2:32 a.m.

Michigan law provides clear standards for a judge in deciding whether to approve a minor's petition to bypass parental consent for an abortion. There is no wiggle room -- if the judge finds that the minor is mature enough and well informed, OR that a waiver would be in the minor's best interests, the judge must grant the waiver. Jim Fink has stated publicly and privately that he knows that choosing an abortion is a legal right, and that he is prepared to and will follow the law. Those who know him know that if he says he will do something, then he will do it. I respect each person's right to vote consistent with their beliefs about reproductive freedom. However, I believe it is unfair in this judicial election to portray Jim Fink as someone who will ignore the law to suit some nefarious political or religious agenda. That simply is not who this man is nor is it how he conducts himself. Jim Fink has been an active and educated voice to end domestic violence and child abuse. He is acutely aware of the fact that some parents abuse their children, that some teens become pregnant through incest or from rape by a step-parent, and that this would make it impossible for them to seek parental consent to abortion. His long years of experience in law enforcement have also taught him that teens can be mature and well-enough informed to make this kind of reproductive health decision independent of a parent. If the facts support a waiver, he will not ignore those facts or pander to the political positions of Right to Life or any other organization. He will do what he has done consistently throughout his life in the legal system -- apply the law to the facts and decide the case without regard to personal beliefs. That's why this pro-choice attorney is supporting him for Circuit Court Judge.

Lore Rogers

Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 7:27 p.m.

Jim Fink is getting this pro-choice lawyer's (Lore Rogers) vote for judge. In 1988, I volunteered with my law partner to represent Planned Parenthood of Ann Arbor to protect it and its patients from the trespassing blockades of an anti-choice group known as Operation Rescue. Operation Rescue was not only blockading Planned Parenthood's clinic, it was blockading a private women's clinic in Ypsilanti Township. I went to the women's clinic in that township to document the actions of Operation Rescue and observe how they responded to law enforcement action. That is where I first met Jim Fink, a lieutenant with the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department. Lt. Fink was in charge of the law enforcement response to the trespass and blockade. Under his command, over 70 Operation Rescue protesters were respectfully and efficiently arrested and removed from the scene. Lt. Fink communicated with clinic staff with great courtesy. He and the officers he oversaw did exactly what needed to be done, without delay, and without any indication that any of them might have personally been opposed to the work of the clinic. Later, as the Legal Advocacy Director at the local domestic violence shelter, I worked with Jim Fink fairly often. Jim was then a Commander at the Sheriff's Department. It was during this time that I learned that he was personally opposed to abortion. This surprised me, as I have observed how some people with strongly held religious or personal beliefs on abortion or other issues use their professional positions to try to impose those beliefs on others. Jim Fink has never done that. Instead, he did what good law enforcement should do, and what a good judge is expected to do – he enforced the law without regard to his own personal beliefs. I have continued to observe Jim Fink behave in this same professional way over the years. He is one of the most highly ethical, compassionate, and principled lawyers I have known.

Ron Granger

Wed, Oct 24, 2012 : 11:40 p.m.

"I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God," Mourdock said. "And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen." I think it is critical to know whether any candidate for office holds extreme views. In the above quote, Mr. Mourdock demonstrates what I consider to be a very extreme viewpoint. I do not accept that anyone with such extreme views could be impartial. Mourdock is an example of why candidates must be carefully vetted.


Thu, Oct 25, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

Exactly...these crazy tea partiers are getting into the white house one by one. They only want to strip away others rights, and deny rights to many more. These people are a cancer that have broken the GOP. All backed by big Koch, Adelson dollars...


Wed, Oct 24, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

OK legal experts, can anyone document when a Washtenaw County circuit court judge made a decision regarding an individual's right to an abortion?


Thu, Oct 25, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

@genetracy. You my friend, have been served!

Tom Wieder

Thu, Oct 25, 2012 : 2:52 a.m.

@genetracy - You asked a question, to which I gave you a straightforward, factual asnwer, and your response is to call me an "ambulance chaser?" Nothing I could say could undermine your credibility more than your own words.


Thu, Oct 25, 2012 : 1:11 a.m.

Sorry Tom, but don't you have an ambulance to chase?

Tom Wieder

Wed, Oct 24, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

Did you actually read the column? There have been more than 125 such decisions by Washtenaw Circuit Judges in the last 4 years, according to records from the Court Administrator's office.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 9:14 p.m.

Also, your article is based not only on fact but quite a bit of assumption.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 9:13 p.m.

Tom, maybe Rachael was asking about situations specific to the one you described; "In the worst cases, the pregnancy may result from rape by the young woman's father or stepfather or her mother's boyfriend. It is in these horrible situations where compassionate parental consideration is most likely to be absent, and a judge may be making the decision."

Tom Wieder

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

It is frustrating when commenters ignore the facts set forth clearly in a column and base their opinions, at least, in part, on that ignorance. Rachel says: "I'd be interested to know how many cases like this have ever come before a Washtenaw County judge. I'd bet probably not one." As my column clearly states: "During the last four years, there have been more than 125 of them." I obtained this figure from the Court Administrator's Office. That is a lot of lives being significantly and directly affected each year by the decision of a judge.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

I'd be interested to know how many cases like this have ever come before a Washtenaw County judge. I'd bet probably not one. This is a non-issue. Let's look at the real issues here. We want a fair judge with a good dose of common sense and justice. This judge will be hearing foster care cases regularly. He/she will be deciding the fate of many lives. This should be a much more pressing issue to the people of the county than very uncommon abortion cases. Please consider all the issues, and don't get scared by the abortion card. I know Jim Fink personally. He is a fair man who listens carefully to all sides before deciding. There could not be a better person on the bench deciding the fates of my foster children.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 3:43 p.m.

Why is this a "Guest Column" and not an "Opinion" article?

Tom Wieder

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

A few responses. If some readers of this piece decide to vote for Fink, because they have learned from it that he's probably more likely to deny a pregnant teen the choice of whether to have a abortion, the article has served a useful purpose for them. In this very pro-choice county, I think more voters would be swayed the other way, if at all, but, at least, everyone knows the connection between their vote and this issue. I can understand the commenter who objected to the language "voters must consider aborion stance" in the headline. It is a bit pushy, but I didn't write it. My title was "Abortion Rights at Stake in Kuhnke v. Fink Circuit Court Race." I don't know why the editors chose the language they did. I also don't think the editors were trying to portray me as any kind of "expert." They asked me for a 1 or 2 sentence bio, and I provided what I thought was relevant information. The only expertise I may have is being more aware of this particulat section of the law and how it works.

Milton Shift

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

Thank you Tom, this is an important issue. Some may say otherwise, but it's quite different when you're the one forced to carry the child of a rape to term (or suffer a dangerous, self-induced abortion with parsley oil or a coat hanger) because it would be "murder" to terminate the unwanted pregnancy.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

Republicans are so hypocritical. I just love this "pro life" GOP member, cheated on his wife, got his girlfriend pregnant and forced her to have an abortion. Abortion is bad, morally wrong...unless it involves the preacher..than it's perfectly ok! 10/10/scott-desjarlais-abortion-pro-life_n_1953136.html


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

I get my news from many sources. Unlike most GOP followers, I don't rely on FAUX News as my only news source


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

Please tell me you get news somewhere other than and the huff post...

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 10:55 a.m.

"Fink is not running as a republican and has the endorsement of many democrats as well, including the sheriff." One minor league Democrat who has had run ins with the law in the past, a Sheriff who claims to be a Democrat but seems to be a puppet to the local political machine, and the Prosecuting Attorney, who has bungled dozens of plea bargain cases during his time in office and ran as a Democrat because he knew he was toast if he tried as a Republican. You might want to ask all three what Democratic Party values they have if they can get on the same bus with Tim Walberg. I'd love to know.

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 10:49 a.m.

While the good Mr. Wieder touches on it, he does share that James Fink had made major financial contributions to the campaign of Congressman Tim Walberg, one of the more radical right wing fringe Tea Party politicians in the House of Representatives. If those are the kind of 'values' Mr. Fink has, he has no place on the judicial bench. And shame on the 'democrats' (well three actually) who have ignored this fact and have supported him. Carol Kuhnke will make a great, and independent judge and deserves our support

Basic Bob

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 9:45 a.m.

I would have voted for Kuhnke, but her association with Mr. Wieder makes me question if that is a smart decision. His other political allies are loathsome.

Honest Abe

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 7:29 a.m.

"Before making choice for circuit court judge, voters must consider abortion stance" Excuse me, but I don't have to consider abortion stance one bit. What an offending headline! Let me tell all of you something. There is only 2 things I MUST do = Stay white and die. Those are the only thing I MUST do. It is obvious this headline is biased to pro choice and that usually means democrat/liberal voting stance. Just don't forget the only things a person MUST do.

Honest Abe

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

By the way, I am proud to be white. I would have it no other way, even if I did have a choice. Let me guess, I am a racist !? Nope, just a guy who is proud of himself and his race and his right to free speech.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

Stay white? Wow...just wow. Not sure what that means, but have fun staying white!


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 4:16 a.m.

"Kuhnke ... has been endorsed by the Washtenaw County Democratic Party and the Ann Arbor Democratic Party. Fink, who identifies himself as a Republican ..." I thought this was a non-partisan race. Fink seems to be doing his part as the top two law-enforcement Democrats in the county have endorsed him, as well as several other prominent Democrats. Where is Kuhnke's Republican support?

martini man

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.

Fink got my vote as did all the anti-liberal judges and candidates. I got a flyer in the mail from some liberal group recommending how I should vote. It worked great ..I voted just the opposite of what they suggested. My absentee ballot is already turned in.Works for me !!!!


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

actually martini man, if you look at the statistics, the majority of college educated voters vote democratic.

martini man

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

Such a test would pretty much wipe out about half the liberal base , thus practically assuring a GOP victory. You have stumbled onto something Blurtinski

Jonathan Blutarsky

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 3:54 a.m.

Yea - There should be an IQ test to pass before being allowed to vote.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 3:07 a.m.

If I should ever be wrongly prosecuted, I don't want my life in the hands of a judge endorsed by the cops.

Joe Baublis

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 2:45 a.m.

Notice how the media needs to promote his credentials? Apparently the merits of his opinion are not sufficient, so they claim that he's an expert, bla bla bla. But the expert is deceptive because he failed to inform you of at least 2 material facts. First, that 7 judges decided Roe V. Wade. And second, that decision resulted in over 55 million dead babies. Perhaps Mr. Wieder would care to examine those corpses? Unfortunately, he can't because those dead baby corpses were hauled to a garbage dump. Well, he can read his "law" book, and get another degree in public policy, right? He's an "expert" so he can tell us who is the bad guy.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

and "Roe" was railroaded and used and luckily was able to let folks know.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 2:30 a.m.

This article is too much. I usually accuse those on the right for voting on one issue but it seems that the left has blinders on as well. I am sure Fink and Kuhnke will both put their own feelings aside and follow the letter of the law. Abortion is legal and that is not going to change locally. Fink also has many democratic as well as republican endorsements. "The law requires any young woman under the age of 18 to have the permission of a parent or a legal guardian to obtain an abortion, in any circumstances." Wow, I sure hope so. I am pro-choice but how many children under 18 are capable of dealing with an issue like this alone?

Milton Shift

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

Someone who believes abortion to be murder will not just allow "murder" to take place when they have the power to stop it. Spend some time in a few courtrooms and it will become very clear how biased and unaccountable judges actually are.

Tom Wieder

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

I think you miss a main point of the article. The "letter of the law" directs the judge to decide what's in the best interest of the young woman. That's a near totally subjective judgment, strongly influenced by the judge's personal view of abortion. It is useful for voters to know what those views are. I am not, in the slightest, suggesting that this is the only issue voters should base their votes on. I wanted to bring to light a fact about the role of a Circuit Court judge that many voters would not be aware of.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

"Abortion is legal and that won't change locally" So far... But if Romney gets in the white house, you will see more and more of this right wing extremism. It's a cancer that must be stopped /2012/05/27/1095195/ -ALEC-Weyrich-and-Right-Wing-Extremism


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 1:22 a.m.

Why are politicians so interested in other people's genitalia?


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

I know right? What's with the GOP, we want small government accept when it comes to god or a woman's body....they can't enact enough laws to suppress everyone! Here's why h ttp:// story/2012/05/27/1095195/ -ALEC-Weyrich-and-Right-Wing-Extremism


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 2:16 a.m.

I know. Smaller government, except when it comes to my ladybits. Abortion is murder, and the one thing that lowers the abortion rate - comprehensive sex education - is bad, bad, bad and we must legislate 'abstinence only' programs that fail miserably. Seriously, let's all come together and figure out what can be done to prevent unwanted pregnancies instead of constantly bickering. It's a real bore at this point.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

Thanks for this, now I know I'll be voting for Fink. Abortion is murder.

Milton Shift

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.

And condoms are genocide.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:53 a.m.


Ron Granger

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 11:36 p.m.

"The candidate must also support a Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, establishing legal "personhood" from the moment of conception." Many view personhood laws as a way to abolish "the pill" as a form of birth control. That is because the pill can prevent the fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus. Even the voters of Mississippi rejected that law.

Dog Guy

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 11:27 p.m.

This column is cheap and dirty partisan politics in a non-partisan judicial election. A Judge's personal opinions should be irrelevant to his judicial opinions. Tom Wieder is as much out of bounds as if he were to write that a judicial candidate is a lesbian activist.

Tom Wieder

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

Dog Guy- BTW, I'm a real dog lover, myself. How is this cheap and dirty partisan politics? This is a type of case that the winner of the election may have to decide. One of the candidates has aligned himself with a very clear and extreme view on the subject matter. I think it's totally appropriate to have a discussion of that.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 11:10 p.m.

A personhood amendment would ban popular forms of contraception, including the extremely effective IUD and "the pill." The IUD has become an excellent way to protect young women and has prevented many abortions. A personhood amendment isn't just about abortion. It bans some of the most popular and effective forms of contraception. Has the U.S.A. come to the point where a minority of people who don't want women to use contraception get their way? The vast majority of women of all ethnicities and all religions use contraception/birth control at some points in their lives. Also, freedom of religion is an issue. There are religious beliefs that life begins at quickening (more activity of the feus).

Laura Jones

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:40 a.m.

A person hood amendment would require ratification by the states - I don't see the votes for that.

David Cahill

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:49 p.m.

Choice issues are important ones to voters. Like it or not, a judge's personal politics often play key roles in his/her discretionary decisions.

Milton Shift

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

Mr. Cahill is a lawyer, and of course correct on this... hope his credentials mean something to the readers.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:47 p.m.

" The Human Life Amendment it supports would, essentially, make abortion a murder of a "person." " Sounds right to me. Stop the murders of unborn persons.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

Sounds completely WRONG to me!


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:51 a.m.

I stand by what I said. I have no problem with birth control being used..just wish more people used it before they have sex. If you do nothing after you become pregnant..a human being will be born. If you chose to abort the, the human being is killed. In that case, unless it is to save the life of the mother, you have killed a human being.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 11:39 p.m.

A few months ago a Republican member of Congress who had voted to ban abortion after a certain week found out that his daughter had a serious medical issue after the stated point in a pregnancy. Once it occurred to his daughter, he changed his position. There are other instances in which a staunch politician changes course when it affects a family member. This has happen regarding who someone marries, too. What penalties such as jail time, etc. are you proposing if you consider early abortion or the use of certain birth control measures to be murder? You (not I) wrote the word "murder."

Jack Campbell

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.

Voting on one social issue is completely ridiculous. I also love that you included the worst picture you could find of Fink. Looks like its from 1980, wheres the horrible pic of Kuhnke?


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

Yes Jack, for you the focus on this one issue may seem ridiculous. But then you've never experienced the fear, anxiety, or even panic at the possibility or reality of an unplanned pregnancy that many many women do.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:50 a.m.

Tom, is it appropriate for a guest comumnist to be making personal attacks against commenters?

Tom Wieder

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:45 a.m.

Meant to say "beyond the reach," not "behind the reach."

Tom Wieder

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:44 a.m.

I'm not sure what to say, since the picture is of me, not Fink. So, I look like the "worst picture you can find of Fink?" I'm not sure whether I should be insulted, or Jim, or both of us. I think I can safely say that when you think is plotting against one of the candidates by running a bad picture of him, and it's not even him, you are behind the reach of calm, rational discussion.

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:43 p.m.

On my computer, the only photo with this column is one of the writer, Tom Wieder. Rather good portrait too, I think.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

...And, after you consider this *one* policy aspect, please consider *every other policy aspect a judge deals with on a daily basis.*

Jack Campbell

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:26 p.m.

Fink is not running as a republican and has the endorsement of many democrats as well, including the sheriff. Melinda Morris was a detriment to the county letting many repeat offenders go unpunished. Recently she gave 15-20 years to a murder who shot his victim 5 times. Kuhnke looks to be cut from the same mold. We need a judge who cares about the safety of citizens of Washtenaw county. James Fink isnt going to do anything on abortion, stop the scare tactics. I am pro-choice and I am voting for Fink. Think beyond one issue please.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 11 p.m.

"...looks to be cut from the same mold." Grammatical issues aside, how someone appears is not the issue. It's the philosophy that counts. Is James Fink unbiased or does he consider abortion to be wrong? Ms. Kuhnke would consider the situation of each person coming before the court because she is neither pro-abortion nor anti-abortion. She doesn't stock to the platform of any political party and would allow a petitioner to meet with and work out possible solutions with medical professionals.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:55 p.m.

The seat available deals much more with civil disputes than criminal. Ms. Kuhnke has substantially more experience with civil actions - and at a very high level. Ms. Kunke is extremely consientious, hard working, whip smart, and not easily fooled. There is no reason to assume she would be soft on crime.

Laura Jones

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.

1. No local judge is going to make abortion illegal - that is a decision reserved for the Supreme Court alone, based on Roe v. Wade. It is RIDICULOUS to raise that as a concern. 2. Other than in the case of incest, how is it that parental consent is not in the best interests of the child? That simply is outrageous. Just because you think this is the best decision for my daughter does not mean that it is - and other than in the case of incest, why should it be your decision? (It should not!) 3. Judges are hired to apply the law - not develop it on their own. Get real. Abortion is legal. Unless you have pixie dust that can change that, raising the specter of back room abortions is grandstanding in the extreme. You may well find it difficult to believe a "Right to Life" judge can apply laws he feels are morally repugnant, but judges do this all the time. Are you implying then that your candidate will allow ANY child to get an abortion without limits? I also would hope that is as far fetched. I am not at all impressed by this letter. Both candidates should be given a chance by to reply with similar space.

Laura Jones

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:37 a.m.

@Talker. This is a local election, not a national one. When voting for a President, then it is a pertinent issue. Congress also would be pertinent. Wrong place.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:51 p.m.

Though abortion remains legal at this time, there are an increasing number of obstacles. Also, we can't take the legality of abortion for granted when policy statements in the Republican Party Platform including abolishing abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, the two examples of when a minor might come before the court for permission from the judge to decide.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

This is a CHEAP SHOT! "In fact, whether a minor obtains an abortion may be determined by the decision of a single judge, acting under a state law that gives virtually total discretion to the judge. " There are a lot of other issues but Mr. Wieder has to play the Abortion Card!

Laura Jones

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:22 p.m.

He is parsing a sentiment here with abortions for underage children, not really discussion the law of the land, which is legal abortion.

Michigan Reader

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

But the abortion card is a biggie, isn't it? It trumps all other issues.

Tom Wieder

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 9:43 p.m.

@Stellajack- I think you misunderstand the way the law works. The judge doesn't decide whether the young woman has an abortion or not. The judge decides whether to let the young woman make the decision for herself. A pro-choice judge can't order the young woman to have an abortion. A judge who is publicly committed to the Right to Life position - that any abortion other than to protect the woman's life is murder - is unlikely to give that permission, even in cases of rape or incest. Judges are human, not "objective" machines. That's why the most important thing they do is issue "opinions" and why we have 7 Justices on the Michigan Supreme Court and 9 on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Michigan Reader

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:11 p.m.

This is slightly off-topic, but the most important things judges do is issue "orders" which flow from opinions. Remember, the courts speak through orders, not opinions.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 9:42 p.m.

Stellajack, you say: "In my opinion, BOTH candidates would follow the law and make objective decisions." The column's central point is that under the extremely loosely-worded statute, there is in effect no "law" to follow -- no legal standards of any precision to guide an "objective decision". As Mr. Wieder says: "This language is broad and loose enough for the most pro-choice or anti-choice judge to find justification within in it for any decision", easily loose enough to allow a judge to follow his so-called "Right to Life" ideological commitments.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

I'm left trying to figure out what is more annoying. This sermon telling me to vote pro-choice or a priest on Sunday telling me to vote pro-life.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

How would I know it annoyed me unless I read it?


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 9:49 p.m.

You undoubtedly have the freedom not to read things on that annoy you. And you presumably have the freedom not to attend a church with such sermons, or at least to tune them out.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

Thank you for enlightening the electorate. Children and teenagers who have already been brutalized by adults should not be hurt more. That's one of the reasons I support Kohnke for judge. Another reason I'm against Fink is that some voters hear the familiar last name and don't realize which member of the Fink familiy this is. Over half a century ago, women with botched abortions showed up at ER's, almost bleeding to death. Some died. Life wasn't preserved for either the woman/girl or the fetus. Some women who survived were never able to bring life into the world. It wasn't pro-life then and it isn't pro-life now. Many doctors who experienced the horrors of the 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's are either deceased or retired. It's interesting that most doctors practicing medicine today became licensed just before 1973 (Roe v Wade) or after 1973.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 4:20 a.m.

Great point Laura EXCEPT that's NOT the law. Please read the article before posting.

Laura Jones

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:33 p.m.

Abortion is legal, has been since 1973. Why bring up the issues about it being legal? That is not even a question here. Children should have the consent of their parents - or at least one of them - for any medical procedure. In the case of abortion, other than incest, I fail to see why any judge is better equipped to make such a decision, in fact I am sure they are not. In the case of incest, a guardian can also be made for a very minor child who cannot make such decisions on their own. Normally this would include the child being removed from the parents and charges being filed. If parents are too incapable to make this decision, why let them make any at all? Simply take the child and have the state raise them. Surely there cannot be any more important decisions that require a fit parent. Incapable of this - incapable of any.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

I find it rather disturbing that you are stating that BOTH candidates would allow their personal politics to guide decisions from the bench. In my opinion, BOTH candidates would follow the law and make objective decisions. Neither the Pro Choice nor the Right to Life positions are Michigan law. My guess is that Ms. Kuhnke would not be pleased that you are encouraging people to vote for her based on the argument that her personal opinion would supersede the statute.

Milton Shift

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

Maybe it's because that's how politicians, and judges especially, actually operate. Look at all the CoA rulings on MMJ for proof.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 9:42 p.m.

Finally some reason comes to the table. From what I've learned of Fink, I believe that if elected he will hand down judgements based on law, not on political opinion.

The Secret Team

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 9:13 p.m.

What about the other circuit court race? Judge Timothy Connors was appointed by Governor Engler and was a donor to the Michigan Republican Party and the candidacies of ultraconservative Chief Justice Clifford Taylor. He is an endorser of Jim Fink in Fink's quest for a circuit court judicial seat. What is his stance on abortion? Has he declared a stance? His opponent, Michael Woodyard, has described himself as a "lifelong Democrat". Shouldn't pro-choice activists vote for Michael Woodyard?

The Secret Team

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:56 p.m.

@lsl: That never happened, Laurie. Timothy Connors made a bid for the endorsement of the Ann Arbor Democratic Party on 9/15/12 and got turned down in a membership vote by a 47-8 margin.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:49 p.m.

Michael Woodyard is simply not competent to be a judge on a bench that requires the determination of civil disputes. During the judicial candidates' forum he did not even know what summary disposition is. That would be tantamount to hiring a cook who did not know how to turn off a stove. Seriously, he should not even be running.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10 p.m.

I suppose so, if you're a one issue voter...

Joe Yekulis

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

Mr. Wieder, you've made such a compelling argument for me - that now I know I'm voting for Jim Fink for Judge of the Circuit Court.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 9:38 p.m.

Mr. Yekulis, you've been served!

Tom Wieder

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 9:31 p.m.

Oh, come on Joe. My article had nothing to do with you "deciding" to support Jim Fink. As a former Republican officeholder and candidate, you are part of the GOP establishment that propels Fink's candidacy. And then, of course, there's the fact that Fink contributed to both your campaigns for County Commissioner and for State Representative. You've known who you were voting for all along. But, nice try. I do give you credit for using your real name, though.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

Thanks for reminding me to vote PRO Life!!


Wed, Oct 24, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

As if you nut jobs need reminding....I give you guys the finger ever day I drive by planned parenthood. I hope you enjoy standing in the dark with signs no one can read.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

I agree, I'm voting for Kuhnke!


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 8:37 p.m. about preachin....


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 3:58 p.m.

Yes, a LOT of preachers have abused their church's tax-exempt status to promote political agendas from the pulpit.