In this issue of Lansing Update:
- Catholic Conference Comments on Embryo Research Executive Order
- House Creates Subcommittee on Indigent Defense
- Catholic Conference Questions U.S. Senators’ Commitments to Education
This week President Obama issued an Executive Order that mandates all taxpaying United States citizens to contribute, unwittingly, to the destruction of human embryos for research purposes. The order fulfills a campaign promise of the president and overturns existing presidential policy that protects human embryos from destruction.
President Obama’s order also revokes Executive Order 13435 of June 20, 2007 that promoted stem cell research that does not necessitate the destruction of human embryos. Michigan Catholic Conference released the following statement as the president’s policy was announced:
“President Obama’s executive order regrettably places ideology and political posturing ahead of proven scientific therapeutic advancements. There are endless studies and stories of patients who have been treated, even cured of their debilitating condition following stem cell therapies that do not necessitate the destruction of human embryos, yet the president today will sign an executive order that makes every tax-paying American citizen unwittingly complicit in the destruction of human embryos for experimental research.
“In his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5, President Obama stated ‘There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.’ Unfortunately, there is no consistency between this profound statement and today’s executive order—as destroying human embryos is, in fact, taking the life of an innocent human being.”
This week State Representative Mark Meadows (D-East Lansing), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, announced a new subcommittee on indigent defense. The announcement comes as the Campaign for Justice is pursuing legislative changes to the approach by which Michigan provides adequate defense for the poor population.
Representative Bob Constan (D-Dearborn Heights) will serve as the chair of this new subcommittee and Representative Justin Amash (R-Kentwood) will serve as a member.
This subcommittee is charged with conducting hearings, convening working groups, and developing appropriate legislation to address the issue. Representative Meadows noted that our state’s public defense system is “at best, deficient; at worst, unconstitutional.”
Michigan Catholic Conference is a member of the Campaign for Justice coalition.
Michigan Catholic Conference this week expressed significant reservations about the interests of Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin to work for the quality and safe education of all students, especially the poor. The Conference’s concern follows the votes of Michigan’s two U.S. senators against an amendment that sought to protect the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.
“Some 1,700 poor children in the D.C. area annually are granted an opportunity through the Scholarship Program to receive a high quality education in a safe environment of their choice, but the votes cast by Senators Stabenow and Levin have created an uncertain future for those children for reasons that appear to be purely political,” said MCC Vice President for Public Policy Paul A. Long.
On the evening of Monday, March 9, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin joined a majority of senators in opposing an amendment sponsored by Senators Ensign (R-NV) and Lieberman (ID-CT) to the federal Omnibus Appropriations bill that would have eliminated restrictions on the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which annually grants low-income D.C. children a $7,500 voucher to attend a school of their choice.
The future of the needs-based scholarship continues to be in jeopardy following the Senate vote, as comments from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs failed to convince leaders in the educational choice community that the program will continue. When asked about the future of the program, Mr. Gibbs merely stated the president would work to make sure “disruptions don’t take place.”