Lansing Update
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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
August 23, 2019

  In This Update:  
  • Federal Court Begins Hearing Catholic Adoption Cases
  • The Word from Lansing: End Dismemberment Abortion 
  • USCCB Expresses Deep Concern Over Public Charge Rule
  Federal Court Begins Hearing Catholic Adoption Cases  
For decades, Catholic agencies have partnered with the State of Michigan to place children in loving homes. Despite their exemplary work in this area, governments and other hostile organizations have sought to push Catholic adoption and foster care programs out of the public realm. In March, a policy crafted by Michigan's Attorney General and the ACLU required the Department of Health and Human Services to end state contracts with child placement agencies-including Catholic organizations-who refuse to violate their beliefs about marriage and the family. Two Michigan Catholic foster and adoptive agencies (St. Vincent Catholic Charities and Catholic Charities of West Michigan) have fought back against this new policy with lawsuits at the federal level in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. This week, the court in Grand Rapids began hearing oral arguments in both cases. After arguments, the judge will decide if faith-based agencies can continue operating under 2015 state conscience protections (which Michigan Catholic Conference supports) while their cases go through the legal system.  To learn more:
  • The Detroit News recently included an op/ed from Becket, a public interest law firm who is defending St. Vincent Catholic Charities, the Buck family (who adopted five children with special needs), and Shamber Flore, a former foster child. This piece explains why faith-based agencies are critical to Michigan's foster and adoptive landscape.
  • MCC's latest FOCUS publication delves into current religious freedom challenges for these agencies and ways the Catholic Church is responding. 
  The Word from Lansing: End Dismemberment Abortion  
Currently, a citizen's initiative petition drive is underway to ban the brutal dismemberment abortion procedure, and the signatures of 400,000 registered Michigan voters are needed-by the latest-December 26. The campaign's goal is to gather all the signatures by late October. In the drive's first month, pro-life residents ordered over 125,000 petitions, demonstrating wide support for the measure. Now, the number of petitions that have been requested is over 250,000, with each form offering the space for up to eight signatures. The Word from Lansing column for August explains why the Michigan bishops encourage full participation in signature gathering efforts. Together, Catholic and other pro-life support is critical to ensuring those petition forms come back into the Michigan Values Life Committee leading the effort (and filled out correctly). Michigan Catholic Conference is grateful to all the parishes and Catholic groups who have already participated or who have plans to participate in the effort to end dismemberment abortion. For more information, visit
  USCCB Expresses Deep Concern Over Public Charge Rule  
Last week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed concerns with a final rule from the Department of Homeland Security on the issue of "public charge." This rule states that participation in public aid programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, and Section 8 housing could be reasons for an immigrant to potentially be denied a green card. The rule will take effect in October, sixty days after its publication on August 14. Representatives of the USCCB recently offered the following statement:

"This rule will undermine family unity and lead many lawful immigrants to forgo vital assistance, including enrollment in nutrition, housing, and medical programs. Families already in the U.S. will be faced with deciding whether to access critical assistance programs for which they qualify, knowing that in doing so they could jeopardize their ability to stay here with their loved ones. And, it will reduce the ability of many to reunify with family in the U.S. We have already seen the culture of fear that the anticipation of this rule has created in our communities. Ultimately, we believe that this rule is in tension with the dignity of the person and the common good that all of us are called to support."

To learn more about the federal public charge rule, check out the analysis from Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc (CLINIC).

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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,