Lansing Update: Abortion Extremism Runs Rampant in Lansing

In this update:

MCC Raises Alarms About Abortion Extremism Following Proposal 3

Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) spoke out this week against abortion extremism being promoted by the Legislature as it moves multiple bills toward the Governor that go beyond the regulatory climate under Roe and the stated intent of Proposal 3.

Not only does legislation now on the Governor’s desk end decades of legal protections in state law for unborn children, but it goes beyond the stated intention of removing the 1931 prohibition on abortion by also removing criminal penalties for administering an abortion that results in the death of the woman, and repealing a law that bars the advertising or sale of unsafe, unregulated abortion pills, powders, or drugs.

The bills include House Bill 4006, sponsored by Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) and House Bill 4032, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Young (D-Detroit), both of which have reached Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk after passing both legislative chambers.

There is also Senate Bill 2, sponsored by Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), which cleared the Senate and a House committee and is awaiting action on the House floor. The bill would repeal a law that helps to protect the public from bad actors—those who would publish or sell dangerous, unscientific recipes to use to prevent conception, produce a miscarriage, or cause an abortion by using “indecent or obscene language.”

MCC has previously testified in committee against House Bill 4006 and 4032, and was prepared to testify in committee this week against Senate Bill 2 but was not given the opportunity, as the House Judiciary Committee only permitted testimony from supporters of abortion rights before indicating they ran out of time.

In response to these bills, the following comments were offered by Rebecca Mastee, J.D., MCC policy advocate:

“The advancement of these bills, which are likely to be enacted soon, marks the Legislature’s and Governor’s willingness to end decades of legal protection in state law for the most vulnerable human lives: unborn children.

“We reiterate our call to public officials to work toward a society where women do not feel that abortion is their only choice when facing a difficult, unplanned, or unwanted pregnancy. Lawmakers should focus their efforts on helping women access the resources needed to support themselves and their families, before, during and after birth.

“Public policies should reflect and the Catholic Church promotes the principle that every human life is sacred and worthy of protection from conception to natural death. Ensuring that every person has a legal right to live without violence at the beginning or end of life should be a fundamental baseline society provides to all members of the human family. Anything less is unacceptable.

“Repealing Michigan’s abortion ban ignores that the law was still used under Roe v. Wade to prosecute people who harm women in the process of conducting abortions, including as recently as 2019 in a criminal abortion case where a man who had impregnated his minor stepdaughter forced her to consume abortion pills he illegally purchased online.

“The forthcoming new policy removes from state law the 15-year felony penalty for conducting an abortion that results in the death of a woman. It also removes the ban on advertising or selling unsafe, unregulated abortion pills, powders, or drugs. Repealing these measures endangers rather than protects women, and in doing so reflects an interest in protecting the abortion industry at any cost, to the detriment of women’s safety.

“Legislative efforts are now underway to use the passage of Proposal 3 as justification to modify or propose state laws that were never part of the statewide conversation around the ballot measure.

“Additionally, state lawmakers are voting against proposed common-sense safeguards around abortion, such as prohibiting abortion if the baby has been found to have Down’s syndrome or barring sex-selection abortions. Quite simply, the passage of Proposal 3 has brought with it a new era of pro-abortion extremism and violence toward unborn human life in Michigan.

“As previously stated during legislative testimony regarding women considering abortion:

‘What if society focused on providing her and her family with adequate resources, education and employment opportunities, a support system, quality health care, and helped to make sure her material needs were met?’

“MCC and the Catholic Church stand ready to partner with those who wish to make this vision for society a reality.”

Michigan Employers Forced to Pay for Abortions in Bill Fast-Tracked by Senate

On a separate but related measure, MCC spoke out on a bill being fast-tracked through the Legislature to force employers to pay for elective abortions as part of their employee benefit plans.

MCC argued in a statement that Senate Bill 147, sponsored by Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), is a clear violation of the constitutionally protected rights of conscience for individuals, employers, and faith-based institutions and yet another example of the aforementioned abortion extremism.

In the span of 24 hours, a Senate committee and the full Senate approved Senate Bill 147, which would force all employers in the state with one or more employees who do not have self-insured Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plans to pay for elective abortions as part of their employee benefits plan.

If an employer is providing benefits for pregnancy and childbirth, this would also mandate insurance coverage or paid medical leave for elective abortions. MCC testified against the legislation before the Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety Committee in addition to issuing a statement after the Senate vote.

Rebecca Mastee, J.D., MCC policy advocate, testified against Senate Bill 147 before the Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

The legislation would specifically require adding coverage for termination of a pregnancy. Under Roe, Michigan employers were not required to treat elective abortion the same as pregnancy and childbirth with regards to employee benefits. Abortions due to medical necessity to save the life of the mother were previously covered. Senate Bill 147 breaks from that precedent to now require elective abortion benefits to be treated the same as any employer-provided pregnancy and childbirth benefit.

“No one should be forced to support another person’s choice to have an elective abortion—financially or otherwise,” said Rebecca Mastee, J.D., MCC policy advocate, in the statement. “Despite abortion rights supporters frequently mentioning ‘choice’ and how abortion is ‘no one’s business,’ this bill takes away the choice to decline support for abortions and makes it the business of employers and fellow employees to pay for others’ abortions.”

Senate Bill 147 now heads to the state House for further consideration.

Bills to Ensure Safe Drinking Water Access in All Schools Earns MCC Support

Schools and childcare centers—including nonpublic schools—would be required to create drinking water management plans to ensure access to water is clean and safe, under legislation approved by a committee this week that MCC supports.

Senate Bills 88 and 89 would require schools and childcare centers to create these plans, provided the Legislature also appropriates money to implement it, which would come separately in the state budget process. The Senate Energy and Environment Committee this week advanced the bills to the full Senate.

Paul Stankewitz, MCC policy advocate, testified in support of Senate Bills 88 and 89 before the Senate Energy and Environment Committee.

MCC offered support of the bills because ensuring access to safe drinking water children is good public policy. MCC commended the Legislature for its intent to put funding behind the initiative and for including nonpublic schools in the legislation.

Under the bills, the drinking water management plans would have to designate specific outlets that are maintained to deliver drinking water in schools and childcare centers. Those plans would have to account for the regular replacement of these outlets’ filter cartridges and for regular water sampling and testing.

The bills are similar to legislation that MCC supported last session but did not become law.

Senate Bill 88 is sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit) and Senate Bill 89 is sponsored by Sen. John Cherry (D-Flint).

Gun Safety Bills Pass Senate

The state Senate voted this week to approve three principal gun reform policies under consideration by the Legislature, all of which have received MCC support.

The Senate voted for Senate Bills 76 through 86, which together will expand background checks on gun purchases, require gun owners to lock their guns up at home, and implement a process to temporarily remove guns from people who may pose a threat to themselves or others.

MCC testified at House and Senate committees advocating for support of these particular gun safety measures in conjunction with advocating for a culture of life that seeks to lessen the impact of violence on society.

The bills passed the Senate on mostly party-line votes with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. They now move to the House for further consideration. The House has similar bills under consideration but has only passed the bills pertaining to background checks at this point.

St. Patrick and St. Joseph, Pray for Us

Today marks the feast of St. Patrick of Ireland, and this coming Monday the 20th is the transferred solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (typically celebrated on March 19).

Through the intercession of these two great saints, we ask the Lord God for his grace and blessings upon all members of our Catholic Advocacy Network, as well as for wisdom and guidance for all public officials. Amen.