Our latest edition of FOCUS shows how Catholics in Michigan and beyond are responding to the call to walk with mothers in need and helping them and their children flourish.
While there's a misperception that the Catholic Church cares more about unborn babies and not the mothers who carry them, the reality is that the Church has a heart for both the mother and the baby, and that has transformed into action.
From the U.S. bishops' conference down to the parish level, to Catholic Charities, the Knights of Columbus, and more, the Church is continually available to assist mothers in difficult situations.
Print copies have arrived or will soon be arriving at parishes and other Catholic institutions on our mailing list. If you cannot find any, ask your parish to contact Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) at (800) 395-5565 to order free copies.
FOCUS is MCC's quarterly publication that examines social or public policy issues through the lens of Catholic social teaching. FOCUS has a mailing list of 4,200 and typically distributes 50,000 - 75,000 copies to Catholic institutions across the state. Read more of our past FOCUS publications here.
A congressional agreement on a federal budget bill will maintain longstanding, bipartisan lifesaving provisions preventing tax dollars from paying for abortions and protecting people from having to participate in abortion against their consciences, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said earlier this week.
After concerns were raised by USCCB that Congress would leave behind these provisions - including the Hyde, Helms, and Weldon Amendments - the USCCB said the 2022 budget bill recently approved by the U.S. House did retain these measures. The legislation is now before the U.S. Senate for consideration.
The Hyde Amendment - which blocks taxpayer dollars from subsidizing abortions - has been signed into law every year since 1976, which has seen both Republicans and Democrats in charge of Congress and the White House in that time. But last year, President Joe Biden's official budget proposal did not include the Hyde Amendment.
The Helms Amendment bans the use of foreign aid pay for abortion, and the Weldon Amendment prevents states receiving federal funds from discriminating against health plans for not covering or paying for abortions.
The USCCB also commended other provisions of the congressional budget agreement, including:
critical humanitarian assistance for the victims of Russia's invasion of Ukraine
improvements to maternal health care
investments to support refugees and other vulnerable migrants
affordable housing and food security
environmental provisions including PFAS remediation and climate resilience
inclusion of provisions that address the unique vulnerability of pregnant and postpartum mothers impacted by the U.S. immigration system, as well as critical services for other at-risk populations.
Nonpublic schools were not originally included in the bill, but at MCC's request, they were added to the bill before it was approved unanimously by the Senate Education Committee last week. The bill is now on the Senate floor for further consideration.
In addition to dual enrollment opportunities, the MDE packets also include information like early/middle college programs, testing centers that administer advanced placement or college-level tests, and other information pertaining to postgraduation opportunities.
MCC supports the change in keeping with the Church's commitment to preventing abuse of children. The bill has now cleared both chambers of the Legislature, including the Senate, where it passed unanimously.
The last of a three-bill package designed to cut down on unnecessary incarceration bills supported by MCC was signed into law recently by the Governor.
House Bill 4152, sponsored by Rep. Gary Howell (R-North Branch), joins House Bills 4149 and 4151 as new laws signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which together reclassify fishing and hunting misdemeanors as civil infractions, so violators would receive civil fines rather than jail time.
MCC supported these measures to ensure Michiganders are not forever criminalized and to offer judges more discretion to determine the appropriate response to a crime.
In an unusual move, the House voted to reject two bills that would have removed taxes on children's diapers, adult briefs and incontinence pads.
Both House Bill 5611 and House Bill 5612 were put up for a vote on the House floor but received more nay votes than yay votes. It's not often that a bill without a majority of support is put up for an actual vote on the House floor.
MCC supports the bills, as diapers and incontinence products are essential health items for both children and older adults to maintain proper hygiene. It is estimated that children's diapers cost approximately $80 per month per child, along with a $5 tax burden. MCC supports alleviating this tax burden and recognizing the additional costs regularly borne by both families with young children and older adults.