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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 28, 2019
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • Support Needed for Dismemberment Abortion Petition
  • State Supreme Court to Consider Nonpublic School Mandate Case
  • "Pro-Life for the Whole Life" Conference 7/26-7/28
 
  Support Needed for Dismemberment Abortion Petition  
 
As reported in last week's Lansing Update, a citizen's initiative petition drive is underway to end dismemberment abortion in this state. The brutal procedure, most commonly used during the second trimester of pregnancy, dismembers a living unborn child, removing him or her from the womb limb by limb. In Michigan, this procedure was performed over 1,900 times during 2018. A successful petition drive would send the ban to the Michigan House and Senate. The policy will go into effect with a simple majority vote in both chambers and does not require the governor's signature. If state lawmakers vote against the petition language or take no action, it will go on the 2020 ballot to be approved or rejected by Michigan voters. The Michigan Values Life Committee leading the effort needs the signatures of 400,000 Michigan voters to bring this legislation forward to lawmakers. 

This week, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) joined with Right to Life of Michigan, Citizens for Traditional Values, Michigan Family Forum, Lutherans for Life of Michigan, Protect Life Michigan, Pro-Life Michigan, and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society to kick-off the signature gathering effort with a press conference on June 26. MCC strongly encourages Catholics to participate in the Michigan Values Life petition drive. To learn about how to get involved, visit www.micatholic.org/MichiganValuesLife/

REMINDER: A second petition, "Michigan Heartbeat Coalition," is also currently gathering signatures. The petition would prohibit any abortion after cardiac activity is detected (approximately 6-8 weeks of gestation). While the intent of this legislation is honorable, it could weaken and potentially repeal Michigan's existing pro-life law. Michigan law already protects all unborn children, once a heartbeat is detected and even prior to its detection. Should a heartbeat ban be implemented, it would likely 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 superseding the state's existing ban and allow abortions up until a baby's heartbeat is detected. Therefore, MCC does not support this initiative. 
 
  State Supreme Court to Consider Nonpublic School Mandate Case  
 
In the last several state budgets, the Michigan Legislature has included funding to reimburse nonpublic schools for costs associated with completing State health, safety, and welfare mandates. These mandates include tasks such as carrying out school safety drills, conducting criminal background checks, and maintaining vaccination and attendance records, among others. All schools are required to conduct these activities, but nonpublic schools-most of which operate on a minimal budget-are not reimbursed for the expenses like public schools. Advocacy groups challenged the approximately $5.25 million in state funding, which has been allocated over the past three state budget cycles, in court. These groups claim the appropriations were prohibited by Michigan's Constitution.

In October 2018, the State Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of the spending, ruling the State of Michigan can reimburse nonpublic schools for "incidental" costs, as long as they do not support a "primary" function critical to the school's existence or result in "excessive religious entanglement." Plaintiffs then appealed that decision to the Michigan Supreme Court. This week, the state's highest court announced it would consider the case. In an interview with The Detroit News, MCC President and CEO Paul Long expressed appreciation for the Court's desire to clear up questions around the funding (funding MCC strongly supports). He also pointed out the appropriation's importance, which "was designed to help ensure that children across the state, regardless of the school in which they are educated, have the health and safety protections that they deserve." MCC filed a legal brief in defense of the appropriations in lower courts and plans to file another before the Michigan Supreme Court. 
 
  "Pro-Life for the Whole Life" Conference 7/26-7/28  
 
Conversations about pro-life policies and the dignity of the human person are critical in society today. Catholics are called to engage in these discussions, highlighting moral truths and promoting the value of all people. At times, that means Catholics are called to challenge candidates and party platforms. For example, in 2016, the national Democratic party platform supported abortion access 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. 

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 conference, "Pro-Life for the Whole Life," will include:
  • Expert national and local speakers;
  • Sessions on the meaning of "pro-life for the whole life," abortion, assisted suicide, and other issues;
  • Showings of pro-life films; and
  • Sunday Mass with Most Reverend Earl Boyea, Bishop of the Diocese of Lansing.
Registration is open to all interested in promoting a more pro-life society, regardless of party affiliation. Learn more at: 
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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