Interview conducted by Family and Morality correspondent, Jocelyn Cutean, via phone at 2:30 PM on Tuesday November 23rd, 2010.
Can you tell me more about your background, educational and occupational?
Ed Rivet is a Spartan alumni with an educational background in social science and public administration. He received his bachelor’s degree in Pre-Law Public Policy and went on to gain a master’s degree in Public Administration. He has worked as a legislative aid in the capitol before lobbying with Right to Life of Michigan. He has been with Right to life since 1988; 22 years of service as a lobbyist has helped him find himself as head of public legislation within the organization.
Can you briefly explain your contribution to the organization Right to Life? Why legislation within this particular organization?
Ed Rivet serves as the organization’s principle lobbyist. He is in charge of developing all policy initiatives. His prime concern is to respond to current policy scenarios- he dealt with assisted suicide in the 90’s and lately has been working to ban embryonic stem cell research. Ed Rivet has been with Right to Life for 9 years and says that although the organization is widely know for its anti-abortion efforts it is also involved in the battle against euthanasia and other research. He says it’s a broad range of work that is all about, “reacting to new developments and driving continued efforts.”
If you could sum up the ultimate goal of Right to Life, what would it be?
Though Ed feels strongly that the efforts of the organization are broad, he professes that the ultimate objective is educational policy advocacy. Right to life aims to respect human life from conception to natural death.
Can you briefly outline some major initiatives within your department-legislation- that Right to Life is pushing for?
Rivet relays that his department has been attempting, since proposal no. 2, to put public accountability and oversight for human embryo transfer on the map. He says there is no mechanism for tracking exchanges of money; amendment rights are brought to the forefront. In the upcoming gubernatorial reign, Rivet assures me that though vetoed in their last attempt, Right to Life will attempt to enact a state level ban on partial birth abortion. He also draws attention to faults in the new National Healthcare law. Rivet plans on ensuring that insurance exchanges cannot include abortion charges. And, he seeks to defend healthcare provider’s choice in procedure participation; if a doctor opposes abortion procedure or protocol he should not be bound by law to abide.
In your opinion, what are some of your successes? What legislation or initiatives are you most proud of realizing?
Rivet admits to not having a whole lot of success in the last couple of years. The organization has run up against “stone walls” in recent initiatives- the response to embryo research, governor vetoes, and a lack of ability to spring things to fruition.
Any moments of re-strategizing or realization?
Rivet holds that there are unwritten rules of lobbying. “You are constantly rewriting your strategy legislatively.” Unforeseen circumstances develop and the organization must follow a new course. “As an organization, we aren’t solely a public policy organization. A large educational thrust exists. “ Right to Life has been airing educational television ads and has developed an extensive website with resource materials. Rivet says when legislation isn’t as productive as hoped, the organization turns to the 90 plus local groups who are also doing “basic grassroots stuff.”
Who would you describe to be your biggest opponents as an organization?
Planned Parenthood is an obvious opponent. However, Rivet relays, only three of twenty clinics actually perform abortions. Occasionally, Right to Life and Planned Parenthood agree on peripheral issues but, Ed says, “We are loyal adversaries. There is no single organization that functions as we do.” And, because of the distinctiveness of the organization, there is no single organization that functions precisely oppositely.
Let’s talk briefly about the recent gubernatorial election. Right to Life openly endorsed Mike Cox. How do you think the recent election of Rick Snyder will affect your initiatives in legislature?
Rivet says the Governor elect campaigned as prolife but Right to Life had discrepancies with Snyder’s campaign exceptions; he was a proponent for Proposal 2. However, Right to Life is excited about having a prolife governor. Rivet comments, “ Clearly, he has surrounded himself with people of the same position. We anticipate him being very open to policies.” He hopes the governor will look at issues favorably.
Do you have any comments on the recent fetus findings scandal?
“Basically, because of treatments applied, it was legal.” Essentially, human bodies are being put in landfills and health law policy should address that, Rivet says. He claims that in the tail end of Granholm’s reign, it was an issue which arose too recently to be practically acted on. However, Rivet expects to reintroduce the issue in the new session. Rivet expects it to be on “the front burner” of the Right to Life agenda.
-Michigan Right to Life: interview with Ed Rivet, head of Public Legislation-