Lansing Update: Part Two of MCC's Top Policy Moments from 2023

MCC’s Top Policy Moments of 2023, Part 2: Protecting Human Life and the Vulnerable

As the end of the calendar year approaches, we are reflecting upon and writing for Lansing Update readers a top 10 list of public policy moments in 2023, from a Catholic perspective. Below is part two in our two-part series, as the first edition ran in last week’s Update. The issues discussed below are in no particular order.

The passage of Proposal 3 was used to spur numerous extreme abortion policies

Pro-abortion rights lawmakers made abortion a major theme in the Legislature this year even after voters approved Proposal 3 last fall.

Supporters of Proposal 3 said they only sought to restore Roe v. Wade in Michigan. But what has happened since then is exactly what MCC and other allies said in the run-up to the passage of Proposal 3: The abortion lobby has leveraged the new constitutional amendment to make Michigan an extreme outlier on abortion policy, far beyond what was status quo under Roe.

In addition to the Reproductive Health Act, lawmakers this year have also removed protections for women against dangerous abortion practices and mandated abortion benefits for employers who provide coverage for pregnancy or childbirth.

For more on the year after Proposal 3, MCC staff was featured discussing these matters in the Diocese of Gaylord’s most recent Faith Magazine issue, starting on pg. 24 of this document.

Throughout this year, MCC advocated against these measures and called on lawmakers to prioritize addressing the root causes that lead to abortion by helping vulnerable mothers and families with material needs, something that people on all sides of the abortion debate should be able to support.

Dioceses, MCC help turn out Catholics for first statewide March for Life

One year to the date of the passage of Proposal 3, thousands of pro-life Michiganders showed up on the state Capitol lawn to peacefully demonstrate for the protection of all human life.

Thousands marched for life from the state Capitol to the Michigan Hall of Justice.

MCC, along with its partners at the seven Michigan dioceses, worked to get the word out to the Catholic community in Michigan to demonstrate the grassroots support for the dignity of human life. Catholics from all corners of the state were represented at the rally and march, including hundreds of Catholic school students. Before the march, many of Michigan’s bishops concelebrated a Mass for Life at St. Mary Cathedral, just down the street from the Capitol.

The Knights of Columbus also played a pivotal role in assisting the march organizers — Right to Life of Michigan and March for Life – with crucial logistical details to ensure the event went well.

MCC joins in supporting gun safety reforms to save lives

The Catholic Conference advocated for the first significant changes made to gun safety laws in Michigan in years, which took place this year as many families were still reeling from recent violent tragedies at Michigan State University and Oxford Elementary School.

MCC’s Focus publication on gun violence told the story of the Damer family, whose members survived two school shooting incidents in Michigan.

MCC testified in support of legislation to strengthen gun background checks, require safe storage of guns in homes, and allow for temporary confiscation of firearms from individuals who could hurt themselves or others, all of which were signed into law.

In addition to providing public support of those measures, MCC educated the lay faithful in Michigan on the Catholic perspective for addressing gun violence through a comprehensive print and web edition of the Focus publication that was distributed earlier this year.

MCC also produced op-eds on the issue, including one published in the Detroit Free Press, the state’s largest paper.

Policies assisting the most vulnerable advance in Legislature

While this is true any legislative year, MCC supported and helped advance policies aimed at helping the most vulnerable people who live on the margins of society.

From left, front row: Allie Hayes, whose story inspired the vulnerable adults legislation; and her sister Eileen Hayes. In the back row, from left: Paul Stankewitz, policy advocate for MCC; Mark and Dawn Hayes, parents of Allie; and Matt Dargay, legislative aide to bill sponsor Rep. Sharon MacDonell.

In the annual budget process, MCC advocates for the inclusion and preservation of vital safety net services that provide food and heating assistance to the poor. Funding and support services for foster children and victims of human trafficking are other budget priorities for MCC that were included.

Other groups of people who benefited from MCC advocacy on legislation this year include juvenile offenders and their families, homeless or runaway youth, and immigrants.

MCC involved in handful of bills that earned unanimous support

While there are some legislative issues MCC advocates on that may be contentious among lawmakers, there are other issues MCC is involved in that fly under the radar but receive widespread bipartisan support from lawmakers.

A newsletter that specializes in Capitol coverage published a recent report that found only 19 votes in the House this year were unanimous, which marked a low that had not been recorded in a century.

However, of those 19 votes, MCC had been involved with and supported four of the bills: Two were sex abuse prevention policies and two were vulnerable adult abuse prevention bills.

Other bills MCC was involved in that received wide bipartisan support included legislation that cracks down on church vandalism, as well as a broad overhaul of the state’s juvenile justice system.

These are just a few illustrations of how MCC’s policy positions — informed by Catholic social teaching — transcend traditional political and ideological battle lines.

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