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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
May 24, 2019
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • MCC Urges Support for Dismemberment Abortion Ban Petition
  • Medically Frail Parole Package Becomes Law
  • AG's Suit Against Federal Health Care Conscience Rules 'Disappointing' 
  • Memorial Day Recognizes Those Who Died in Service to Our Nation
  • Bishop Robert Gruss Named as 7th Bishop of Saginaw Diocese
 
  MCC Urges Support for Dismemberment Abortion Ban Petition  
 
As mentioned last week, Right to Life of Michigan recently began the process of filing a proposal for citizen-initiated legislation with the Michigan Secretary of State to prohibit the dismemberment abortion (or D&E) procedure. The petition, "Michigan Values Life: End Dismemberment Abortions," would ban the brutal second-trimester procedure that dismembers a living fetus, removing him or her from the womb limb by limb. It does so by amending the state's active, 2011 ban on partial-birth abortion. For this citizens initiative petition to be successful, supporters would need to gather 340,047 valid signatures, or eight percent of the total votes cast in the 2018 governor's race. The petition would then go before the Michigan Legislature; if passed, the measure becomes law without needing the governor's signature. If the Legislature votes the measure down or does nothing after 40 days, the legislation would go before the voters on the 2020 ballot. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) has strongly supported banning dismemberment abortion throughout the legislative process and will continue to advocate for its adoption. Stay tuned for further updates as the petition language is finalized and approved by the Board of State Canvassers. MCC's efforts in the coming months will be strongly focused on ensuring this signature gathering drive is successful.  

Recently, a second petition regarding abortion was also filed with the Secretary of State. This citizens initiative petition from the Michigan Heartbeat Coalition would prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected (approximately six to eight weeks of gestation). It would follow the same signature gathering and consideration process as the dismemberment abortion petition mentioned above. MCC is still reviewing the language and considering its potential impact on Michigan's existing law that broadly bans abortion (currently unenforceable due to Roe v. Wade). More information will be provided in future emails about this measure.  
 
  Medically Frail Parole Package Becomes Law  
 
This week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed four new bills into law as Public Acts 13-16 of 2019 regarding parole for the "medically frail." House Bills 4129-4132 would allow eligible individuals who are "medically frail" (needing substantial medical care or nearing the end of their life) and who qualify for medical parole to be moved to a nursing home for the remainder of their sentence. Within the new law, "medically frail" is narrowly defined and requires multiple medical opinions before the designation. Additionally, the prisoner's case would go before the Parole Board, to review public safety concerns and other criteria, before the "medically frail" status could be granted. Inmates who are serving life without the possibility of parole or who have been convicted of first degree criminal sexual conduct would not be eligible for this option. MCC supported the legislation and appreciates the bipartisan cooperation and leadership of the bill sponsors: Representatives Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain), Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit), Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan), and Kyra Bolden (D-Southfield). The Department of Corrections estimates that the new law could impact approximately 20 to 30 current inmates. 
 
  AG's Suit Against Federal Health Care Conscience Rules 'Disappointing'  
 
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights recently finalized new rules to ensure federal laws that protect health care conscience rights will be fully enforced. The new rules protect health care providers, individuals, and entities from having to provide, participate in, pay for, or refer for services which violate their conscience (such as abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide). The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) welcomed and praised the announcement. Unfortunately, this week, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined with twenty-two other state and local governments to sue the Trump Administration regarding the rules. Michigan Catholic Conference is extremely disappointed to see this action, which severely mischaracterizes the intent and impact of the rules and ignores the longstanding tradition in this country of protecting conscience rights for individuals and organizations in the health care setting. At this time, it is unclear how the lawsuit will impact the implementation of the rules. 
 
  Memorial Day Recognizes Those Who Died in Service to Our Nation  
 
On Monday, the United States will honor the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. military and protecting the nation's freedoms. The tradition of honoring these fallen military members began following the Civil War (then known as Decoration Day) and became an official federal holiday in 1971. As it does each year, the Archdiocese for the Military Services will be honoring the day with a Memorial Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. EWTN Global Catholic TV Network will be airing the Mass on Monday, May 27 at 11:00 am and again on Tuesday, May 28 at 12:00 am. Visit www.etwn.com to learn more about how you can watch this special Mass. 

While taking time to recognize the sacrifice of the servicemen and women and their families on Monday, MCC joins with Catholics across the country in this prayer:

"God of power and mercy, you destroy war and put down earthly pride. Banish violence from our midst and wipe away our tears, that we may all deserve to be called your sons and daughters. Keep in your mercy those men and women who have died in the cause of freedom and bring them safely into your kingdom of justice and peace. We ask this though Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." (Prayer from the Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers)
 
  Bishop Robert Gruss Named as 7th Bishop of Saginaw Diocese  
 
On Friday, May 24, Pope Francis announced that he has selected Bishop Robert D. Gruss as the 7th bishop of the Diocese of Saginaw.  Most Reverend Robert Gruss, 63, has served as Bishop of Rapid City (South Dakota) since 2011. His installation in Saginaw is scheduled for July 26. Bishop Robert Gruss was born June 25, 1955, in Texarkana, Arkansas. He attended Madison Area Technical College, in Madison, Wisconsin, and Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was a commercial pilot and flight instructor from 1980-1989 before entering seminary. He pursued seminary studies at St. Ambrose University, in Davenport 1989-1990; at North American College, Rome, 1990-1994; and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also known as the Angelicum, in Rome. He additionally earned a Master of Arts degree in Spiritual Theology at the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in 1994.  In 1999, he completed studies at the Institute of Priestly Formation (IPF) with an emphasis on Spiritual Direction training.

Michigan Catholic Conference would like to congratulate Bishop Robert Gruss on his selection and looks forward to working with him as a member of MCC's Board of Directors. MCC is also grateful to the service of Bishop Walter A. Hurley, who has served as the apostolic administrator for the Diocese following the death of Most Reverend Joseph Cistone in October 2018. Learn more about Bishop Gruss at https://saginaw.org

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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