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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
June 21, 2019
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • MCC Urges Support for Dismemberment Abortion Petition
  • House Overwhelmingly Approves Abuse Prevention Bills
  • Committee Considers Marijuana Health Warning Labels
  • Vulnerable Adult Protection Bill Continues Forward  
  • The Word from Lansing: Clean & Affordable Water for All
  • House Committee Hears Testimony on "Microgrids"
  • July 26-28 Conference: "Pro-Life for the Whole Life"
 
  MCC Urges Support for Dismemberment Abortion Petition  
 
On Wednesday, June 19, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved the 100-word summary and form of a petition to ban dismemberment abortions (also known as dilation and evacuation or D&E). This brutal procedure, most commonly used during the second trimester of pregnancy, dismembers an unborn child, removing him or her from the womb limb by limb. In 2018, over 1,900 were performed in Michigan. As the petitions are printed, Right to Life of Michigan has formed a committee, Michigan Values Life, to lead the signature-gathering effort. 

What is a citizen's initiative petition, and why is it important? The Michigan Constitution allows the people of the state to sponsor legislation through a citizen's initiative petition. To succeed, this petition will need approximately 350,000 valid signatures from registered voters (eight percent of the votes in the last gubernatorial election). If that threshold is reached, the policy will go into effect with a simple majority vote in the House and Senate and does not require the governor's signature. Then, if state lawmakers vote against the petition language or take no action, it will go on the ballot to be approved or rejected by Michigan voters. The dismemberment ban sought by the petition drive is almost identical to bills passed by state lawmakers earlier this year. The petition effort is critical, as Governor Gretchen Whitmer promised to veto the dismemberment abortion ban recently approved by the Legislature. The main difference between those measures is that a section has been added to the petition drive allowing the Legislature to intervene in lawsuits in case Attorney General Dana Nessel refuses to defend the law in court.

It will take a few weeks for the petitions to be printed and distributed to volunteers. The goal is to collect 400,000 signatures, and we need your help achieving that goal! State law requires signatures to be collected within 180 days (about six months). A petition order form, circulating instructions, and other materials are available at www.MichiganValuesLife.org. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) strongly encourages Catholics and parishes to participate in the Michigan Values Life petition drive. 

NOTE: A second petition, "Michigan Heartbeat Coalition," was also approved this week. The petition language would prohibit any abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected (approximately six to eight weeks of gestation). While the intent of this legislation is honorable, it would weaken and potentially repeal Michigan's existing pro-life law. Michigan law-enacted in 1846 and later renewed in 1931-already protects all unborn children, once a heartbeat is detected and even prior to its detection. Should a heartbeat ban be implemented, it would not be effective until Roe v. Wade is overturned. At that point, the state's existing ban on abortion would again become enforceable. At best, a heartbeat ban would be redundant, but at worst, a heartbeat ban could be interpreted as repealing the 1931 law and allow abortions up until a baby's heartbeat is detected. Therefore, MCC does not support this initiative.
 
  House Overwhelmingly Approves Abuse Prevention Bills  
 
Continuing ongoing discussions about child safety, the Michigan House of Representatives approved several measures this week to prevent and recognize child abuse. Each continue to the Senate side for further committee testimony. As keeping all people safe from abuse is critical, MCC supported: 
  • HBs 4376 and 4108, sponsored by Representatives Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan) and Roger Hauck (R-Mt. Pleasant), which add physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and athletic trainers to the list of mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. MCC helped add clergy to the list of mandatory reporters back in 2002.
     
  • HB 4377, sponsored by Representative Kristy Pagan (D-Canton), which requires the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to create comprehensive and publicly available training materials for mandatory reporters on recognizing and reporting suspected abuse. Employers and organizations with mandatory reporters as employees would be required to provide the training to those employees, unless it already offers a similar training. 
 
  Committee Considers Marijuana Health Warning Labels  
 
This week, the House Judiciary Committee considered House Bills 4126 and 4127, which would require all marijuana products sold in Michigan to include a health warning. The labels would act as a caution to pregnant and breastfeeding women about the negative health impacts of using marijuana products. Representatives Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) and Daire Rendon (R-Lake City), sponsors of the bill package, spoke to the importance of the legislation, especially as the long-term health impacts of marijuana usage on pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and their babies is still largely unknown. MCC supports the legislation as it helps provide important health information for the protection of mothers and children. No vote was taken this week. 
 
  Vulnerable Adult Protection Bill Continues Forward  
 
As mentioned in last week's Lansing Update, the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee has been considering a bill to prevent exploitation and protect the dignity of vulnerable adults. Specifically, House Bill 4076 would prohibit a person from intentionally or knowingly threatening, commanding, forcing, coercing, or exploiting a vulnerable adult and causing that vulnerable adult to provide sexually explicit visual material of themselves. MCC supported the measure from Representative Padma Kuppa (D-Troy), which passed the committee this week. The bill continues to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration.
 
  The Word from Lansing: Clean & Affordable Water for All  
 
When it comes to issues surrounding water, safety and affordability are two primary concerns for the Catholic Church. In its June column of The Word from Lansing, MCC shares Church teaching on ensuring and providing access to safe, drinkable water for all people. The column also shares several examples of how Catholic organizations and parishes have provided water support to those in need, especially during times of crisis. MCC's most recent FOCUS, Clean and Affordable Water for All, also provides information on this subject.
 
  House Committee Hears Testimony on "Microgrids"  
 
MCC supported legislation in the House Energy Committee this week that would allow for the creation of "microgrids" by municipally owned electric utilities, electric utilities, and private entities. House Bill 4477, sponsored by Representative Steven Johnson (R-Wayland), facilitates the establishment of these smaller, localized systems that could still operate if the larger utility systems go down. This bill would be beneficial because it would allow critical institutions such as hospitals and public safety facilities another avenue for maintaining power during an outage. No vote was taken at the hearing. 
 
  July 26-28 Conference: "Pro-Life for the Whole Life"  
 
The bishops of the United States urge Catholics to be engaged in their communities, including in political life. They have written that Catholics "should be guided more by our moral conviction than by our attachment to a political party or interest group." At the same time, when participating with political parties and candidates, it is important that Catholics highlight fundamental moral truths and challenge the party platform when necessary. In 2016, the national Democratic party platform supported access to abortion for all women. That position runs counter to respecting the dignity of the human person. It also alienates those in the Democratic party who believe in the protection of life, from conception until natural death.

Engaging in ongoing pro-life discussions in society is critical. From July 26-28, Democrats for Life will gather for its annual national conference, which will be held this year in East Lansing, Michigan. The organization seeks to represent the pro-life members of the Democratic party, advocating for policies that promote and protect human life at all stages. The Democrats for Life conference, "Pro-Life for the Whole Life," will address critical issues such as abortion and end-of-life care. Its agenda includes national and local speakers, as well as a variety of pro-life films (including the newly released film "Unplanned," which shares the story of a former Planned Parenthood worker, Abby Johnson). Most Reverend Earl Boyea, Bishop of the Diocese of Lansing, will be celebrating the closing Mass at the event.

Registration is open to all, regardless of party affiliation. MCC encourages members to learn more at https://wholelife.democratsforlife.org/ or at http://www.democratsforlifemi.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