Lansing Update: May 6, 2005

In this issue of Lansing Update:

  1. Committee Passes Legislation Offering Ultrasound Image Prior to Abortion
  2. Bills Creating a State Earned Income Tax Credit Introduced

Committee Passes Legislation Offering Ultrasound Image Prior to Abortion

Michigan women contemplating an abortion would be given the option of viewing ultrasound images of their child as well as photographs taken during the ultrasound under legislation headed to the full House of Representatives.

House Bill 4446, sponsored by Representative Dave Robertson, passed the House Health Policy Committee this week with a 14-2 vote. Michigan Catholic Conference staff testified in favor of the bill.

The bill would require an abortion provider to at least offer a woman the chance to see an ultrasound image of her child prior to procuring the abortion. Numerous accounts of women either not offered such a chance or denied the opportunity to see an image at Planned Parenthood locations surfaced during the committee hearing.

Under existing state law, women seeking an abortion must already be provided images of a child at the gestation age of their own child 24 hours prior to an abortion. That can be done either through the mail or via the internet. Committeewoman Barb Vander Veen said it would make a big difference in deciding whether to abort. She said it’s different for women to look at images of a child “versus a child bouncing around in their own body.”

The original draft of the bill would require a 24-hour waiting period after viewing the photo to procure the abortion. Groups both supporting and opposing the bill cited different reasons for opposing this element.

Michigan Catholic Conference staff, in supporting the bill, urged Rep. Robertson to amend this aspect of the legislation because of constitutionality issues with undue burden. Staff testified that the courts would likely strike down such a law that requires women to return more than once.

House Bill 4446 now awaits consideration from the full House of Representatives.

Bills Creating a State Earned Income Tax Credit Introduced

Legislation that would return more state tax dollars to the working poor were introduced this week as two Senators put forth measures creating a state earned income tax credit (EITC). Michigan Catholic Conference has advocated for such a measure and has included it in its advocacy priorities over the past several years.

Senate Bill 453 would allow a taxpayer to take a credit in their Michigan income taxes equal to 10 percent of the EITC claimed on their federal tax return. Senate Bill 469 would provide the same as long as the state for two consecutive years showed year-end surpluses before the credit would be enacted.

As the executive and legislative branches are working to reform tax structure in the state, the Michigan Catholic Conference strongly believes that the impact of tax policy on low and moderate-income workers must be examined. Getting people out of poverty should be a major goal of tax policy, according to the Conference.

Similar measures last surfaced in the Legislature in 1998 in the House of Representatives, only for it to die in the Senate after passage.