Michigan governor vetoes funding for abortion alternatives

Jonah McKeown   By Jonah McKeown for CNA

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signs a FY 2022 state budget in Lansing, Mich., Sept. 29, 2021. / Photo courtesy of the Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Lansing, Mich., Oct 1, 2021 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday line-item vetoed about $16 million worth of funding for alternatives to abortion, drawing consternation from the state’s Catholic conference.

“Governor Whitmer’s vetoes amplify the disappointing reality of this administration that the abortion industry is more important than vulnerable mothers and their unborn children,” said David Maluchnik, Vice President for Communications at the Michigan Catholic Conference.

“Whitmer has now twice vetoed state funding that ensures mothers in difficult pregnancies receive material, emotional, and well-being support during their pregnancy and through the child’s first year,” he said, referring to similar vetoes that Whitmer signed in 2019.

“In light of Gov. Whitmer’s vetoes, the pro-life community and all persons of goodwill should be strengthened both in spirit and in heart to pray and work harder than before to protect life from the time of conception all the way through every child’s adult and elderly years.”

The provisions vetoed Sept. 29, according to the Detroit Free Press, include $10 million to develop “factual educational information materials on adoption as an alternative to abortion”; $1.5 million for pregnancy resource centers; $1 million for pregnant and parenting services at colleges and universities; and $50,000 for the health department to inform the public that it does not use taxpayer dollars to fund any elective abortion.

Whitmer also axed about $700,000 in the Michigan budget for pregnancy and parenting support that went to Real Alternatives, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that has since 1996 provided counseling for pregnant woman on alternatives to abortion, as well as material help such as baby formula and diapers to mothers up to 12 months after they give birth.

The program expanded its operations to Michigan beginning in June 2014, working mainly through local Catholic Charities affiliates, with the backing of the Michigan Catholic Conference.

According to Real Alternatives’ estimates, the Michigan program has served 8,240 women at 31,958 support visits since 2014. The state has appropriated $3.3 million to the program since its inception.

Maluchnik noted, however, that some items that Whitmer kept in the budget are laudable, including increased administrative funding for foster care providers and per diem rates for adoption agencies, human trafficking victim services, funding to maintain the annual clothing allowance for low-income children in the Family Independence Program, and others.

Michigan recorded nearly 30,000 abortions performed in 2020, the most in the state since 1996, but still 40% fewer than the peak of 49,000 in 1987, the Free Press reported.

“Whereas the state budget is a moral statement that reflects the priorities of the state, MCC works to support fiscal policies that care for and protect life in all its phases, including and especially the unborn,” Maluchnik concluded.

“As an advocacy organization that represents the Catholic bishops in this state, Michigan Catholic Conference will continue to prioritize the dignity and sanctity of all human life from conception through natural death in all elements of public policy.”

A 1931 Michigan state law makes it a felony for anyone to provide an abortion unless “necessary to preserve the life of such woman.” If Roe v. Wade were overturned, this law would again take effect, the Free Press reported.


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