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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
October 20, 2017
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • Catholic Church in Michigan Welcomes Settlement to End Five-Year HHS Mandate Fight
  • ACTION ALERT: Urge Passage of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
  • Safe Delivery Update Moves Forward to Governor's Desk with Wide Legislative Support
  • State House of Representatives Approves Dual Enrollment Expansion
  • Catholic Conference Supports Spina Bifida and Perinatal Hospice Legislation 
  • The Word from Lansing Column: Freedom of Religion and the Value of Interfaith Collaboration
 
  Catholic Church in Michigan Welcomes Settlement to End Five-Year HHS Mandate Fight  
 
Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) announced this week that a favorable settlement has been reached with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding its lawsuit against the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate. The lawsuit, originally filed in May 2012, responded to regulations from the Affordable Care Act that required all employers to include coverage for contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs in their health benefit plans, including employers with religious objections. While the federal government offered a variety of "accommodations," the rules still violated the religious liberty rights of many faith-based organizations, hindering their freedom to serve others. MCC's President and CEO, Paul Long, called the settlement a "victory for religious liberty" and expressed thanks that the "unnecessary burden" has come to an end. 
 
  ACTION ALERT: Urge Passage of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act  
 
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the measure has been introduced in the Senate as S.1922. This measure would prohibit abortion after twenty weeks, except in certain circumstances, as there is scientific evidence that children feel pain at this age and that the mother's risk of death or serious complications increase after the mid-point of pregnancy. On October 17, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York called on the Senate to support and requested a vote on this life-saving legislation. Please take a few minutes to urge your U.S. Senators to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. 
 
  Safe Delivery Update Moves Forward to Governor's Desk with Wide Legislative Support  
 
In Michigan, mothers may legally and confidentially surrender their unharmed newborns to emergency services providers, like fire stations, hospitals, and police stations, for up to seventy-two hours after birth. Lawmakers approved this Safe Delivery provision over fifteen years ago to protect infants from abandonment or neglect. Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services announced over two hundred babies have been saved because of this law. Representative Hank Vaupel (R-Fowlerville) introduced House Bill 4311 this year to add greater confidentiality protections into the law: the parents of the child would be listed as "unknown" on the birth certificate and the infant would be listed as "Baby Doe." The Michigan Senate approved the measure unanimously. Michigan Catholic Conference is pleased to report that the bill will soon be sent to the governor for his consideration, as it has already passed the Michigan House. 

The State of Michigan offers a communications toolkit to spread awareness about the Safe Delivery law and the hotline number, 866-733-7733. Take a few minutes to share this important message with others.
 
  State House of Representatives Approves Dual Enrollment Expansion  
 
High school students in Michigan can enroll in college or university classes-while they are still in high school-through dual enrollment. This year's state budget (October 2017-September 2018) included a provision that authorized public school students in districts that border another state to attend a college or university in that state, if the institution is within 20 miles of the border. House Bill 4735, sponsored by Representative Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis), would codify this policy in the School Code. It also would allow nonpublic school students to similarly access this opportunity for dual enrollment. Michigan Catholic Conference supports this measure as a matter of fairness. The House of Representatives passed the bill by a 64-43 vote, which sends it now to the Senate for further consideration.
 
  Catholic Conference Supports Spina Bifida and Perinatal Hospice Legislation  
 
MCC supported measures in the Senate Health Policy Committee to require doctors and health facilities to provide information to parents facing difficult prenatal diagnoses. When expectant or new parents hear these diagnoses, they can feel overwhelmed, and many have questions about how to address the condition. 
  • House Bill 4584, sponsored by Representative Henry Vaupel (R-Fowlerville), ensures parents whose child is diagnosed with spina bifida-a birth defect where a child's spine does not form properly-are given medically accurate information about the condition, possible outcomes, medical treatment, and support programs and services. 
  • Senate Bill 367, sponsored by Senator Jim Marleau (R-Lake Orion), would also require parents whose child has a prenatally diagnosed condition to be given medically-accurate information about treatment, support, and assistance. Parents would also be provided with referral information to perinatal hospice programs, which allow families whose child is likely to die before, or shortly after birth, with the opportunity to go through the natural grieving process.
The committee only took testimony during Tuesday's hearing but will likely to consider the measures further in the coming weeks.
 
  The Word from Lansing Column: Freedom of Religion and the Value of Interfaith Collaboration  
 
The freedom of religion has long been upheld in America as a right for every person, regardless of their religious beliefs. This month's The Word from Lansing column focuses on the importance of defending religious freedom for all people as well as the importance of coming together in interfaith collaboration to address pressing issues in society. The column also highlights an event coming up in Detroit at SS. Peter and Paul Jesuit Church on Tuesday, November 7 that will examine the value of religious freedom, challenges to this right, and ways people of various religious beliefs can collaborate in its protection. Those who are interested in attending the Interfaith Religious Freedom Conference can pre-register online at www.irfc-conference.eventbrite.com. Those who cannot attend the November 7 event may follow and participate in the conversation on social media using #InterfaithMI.

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Michigan Catholic Conference, 510 South Capitol Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48933 Michigan Catholic Conference: The Official Public Policy Voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan Phone: (517) 372-9310, Fax: (517) 372-3940, publicpolicy@micatholic.org