Michigan Catholic Conference speaks in favor of proposed paid family leave
LANSING ─ Pro-life leaders in Michigan expressed disappointment in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s efforts to expand abortion access in the state by endorsing legislative measures to undo current restrictions on abortions.
On Wednesday, Aug. 30, Gov. Whitmer gave her endorsement of the Reproductive Health Act during a speech laying out her legislative priorities for the remainder of the year.
The legislation, which has yet to be introduced, would remove the 24-hour waiting period that is part of the state’s informed consent law, the prohibition of using Medicaid to fund abortions for low-income residents, and remove requirements that facilities where abortions are performed are free-standing surgical centers.
The Michigan Catholic Conference released a statement after the governor’s address, describing the measures as “overturning long-standing and widely-supported limits on abortion,” and goes far beyond the initial campaign promise of restoring the status quo of abortion rights in the state before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022.
“Gov. Whitmer’s interest in overturning abortion limits appear to reflect the interest of the national abortion, not the people of Michigan,” said Rebecca Mastee, policy advocate for the Michigan Catholic Conference. “After convincing voters to approve Proposal 3 by saying the measure would simply restore Roe, abortion advocacy groups are now placing the health and safety of women in danger by targeting long-standing, common-sense protections.”
The Michigan Catholic Conference cited data from a 2023 poll conducted by Marketing Resource Group from 599 responses, which stated 63% of voters support 24-hour waiting periods before a woman receives an abortion, and 67% support parental consent for a minor to receive an abortion.
In the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned, Michigan voters passed a constitutional amendment, Proposal 3, guaranteeing abortion rights in November 2022 by a 57%-43% margin.
But the MCC cited the same Marketing Resource Group polling, which states 65% of those who voted for the constitutional amendment also supported a 24-hour waiting period, and 60% supported parental consent before a minor received an abortion.
The current Reproductive Health Act package of legislation doesn’t address parental consent for minors to receive an abortion, but Loren Khogali, executive director of the American Civil Liberties of Union of Michigan, was quoted in the Detroit News on Aug. 29, saying the laws around parental consent before a minor receives an abortion should be repealed.
“If abortion rights advocates want abortion to be treated like any other medical procedure, why would they want to get rid of informed consent and parental consent for minors – which are both standard and expected medical practices,” Mastee said.
Right to Life Michigan also released a statement in response to the governor’s address, expressing dismay at the removal of 24-hour waiting periods before an abortion is performed and regulations that require clinic hallways to be a certain width in case emergency responders need access to a patient.
“Gov. Whitmer is wildly out of step with Michiganders as she works to push through the most extreme anti-life agenda this state has ever seen,” said Barbara Listing, president of Right to Life of Michigan. “The governor is using Proposal 3 as a Trojan horse to remove common-sense provisions meant to protect women and children seeking or undergoing an abortion, as well as basic parental rights, provisions a large majority of even those who voted for Proposal 3 support.
“This blatant affront to women’s health and safety could have only one goal – expand the abortion industry’s bottom line,” Listing added.
Gov. Whitmer also used her address to expand paid family and medical leave in the state, guaranteeing paid time off for workers after the birth of a child. A group of Michigan Senate Democrats, who currently have a 20-18 majority, would allow workers to take up to 15 weeks of paid leave in a year for the birth of a child, a family member’s health condition or their own serious health issue.
“No one should have to choose between being there for their family and a paycheck,” Gov. Whitmer said. “Paid family and medical leave is a pro-family, pro-small business policy that will grow our state and its economy. Let’s get this done, too.”
The governor didn’t detail how the new program would be funded or implemented, but supporters suggested an increase in payroll taxes would fund the program.
The Michigan Catholic Conference applauded the governor’s push for paid family as an example of ways the state can help growing families in Michigan.
“Gov. Whitmer and the legislature should focus their time and energy on public policies that benefit all people, especially the low-income and those who are in need, rather than pursuing divisive and controversial abortion policies that Michigan voters widely oppose. On that point, the Michigan Catholic Conference is interested in paid family leave policies that benefit partners and offer mothers and fathers measures that make raising children easier in Michigan.