News Release: Catholic Conference Applauds Pro-Life Efforts Against RHA Bills

MCC Calls on Lawmakers to Support Policies that Protect and Serve Women and Children

Participants in the Michigan March for Life holding a Choose Life banner

November 21, 2023

(Lansing, Mich.) — “Removing state oversight of health and safety standards at abortion facilities only serves the interests of an industry all-consumed with expanding its abortion business in our state,” Michigan Catholic Conference policy advocate Rebecca Mastee, J.D., stated in response to Governor Whitmer signing into law today most of the bills within a scaled-back version of the pro-abortion Reproductive Health Act (RHA).

Legislative and grassroots advocacy against the RHA began long before the Governor prioritized passage of the full RHA package in a late August speech. Thereafter, several pro-life organizations and elected officials from both political parties were successful in opposing numerous policies within the broader package of bills introduced earlier this year.

As introduced, RHA sought to require Michigan taxpayers to fund abortions through the Medicaid program, eliminate a 24-hour informed consent period, and remove screening for coercion prior to an abortion. These policies were not supported by a majority of the Legislature nor enough members of the majority caucus for the bills to pass. Measures that did pass — with a bare-minimum party-line vote — repeal licensing and inspection requirements for abortion clinics, thereby undoing reforms enacted in 2013 that, for the first time, mandated state oversight of most surgical abortion facilities in Michigan.

Repealing accountability standards for abortion facilities is well out of favor with voters of all demographics and persuasions, according to a statewide poll conducted in October by Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group. MRG’s polling found that “a clear majority of Michigan voters favor retaining long-standing regulations on abortion,” including 95 percent saying they support “abortion facilities being licensed and inspected by the state for health and safety reasons.”

The following comments may be attributed to Rebecca Mastee, J.D., policy advocate for MCC:

“Rather than promote effective public policies for supportive services and care for pregnant women and their unborn children, elected officials in Michigan have chosen to prioritize the abortion industry at the expense of the health and safety of women. Under the false guise of ‘health care,’ these bills only move the state further away from protecting life and supporting vulnerable women.

“In the year since Proposal 3 passed, the Governor and the legislative majority have removed protections for women against dangerous abortion practices, mandated abortion benefits for employers who provide coverage for pregnancy or childbirth, and are now set to enact policies that welcome partial-birth abortions and leave the abortion industry unaccountable to the women they see.

“These policy changes would have been significantly worse if not for the commitment to conscience exemplified by particular lawmakers in the face of hostility and threats from the abortion industry through the RHA debate. We are grateful to those members for their courage.

“What MCC and several other pro-life advocates said would happen in the wake of Proposal 3 is exactly what the legislative majority has forced on the citizens of Michigan in 2023. While voters were told they would only be protecting the legality of abortion as it had been regulated under Roe v. Wade, the abortion lobby has leveraged passage of the new constitutional amendment to make Michigan an extreme outlier on abortion policy, far beyond what was status quo under Roe.”

The abortion expansion bills signed into law by Governor Whitmer today are House Bills 4951, 4953–4956 and Senate Bills 474, 476 and 477. House Bill 4949 is expected to be signed at a later date. That bill codifies into state law provisions of Proposal 3, removes the state prohibition on the late-term partial-birth abortion procedure, and overturns state law protecting people from paying for others’ elective abortions with their health plan premiums. The watered-down RHA package when fully signed into law will thus result in:

“Going forward, the Catholic Church in Michigan and pro-life organizations across the state will remain vigilant in urging lawmakers to prioritize policies that help both mothers and their unborn or newly born children with ensuring the necessities of life and good health,” Mastee said. “We invite policymakers to envision with us a society where women in difficult situations have community and the support they need to make a choice for life and are provided life-affirming and loving options beyond abortion.”

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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