Lansing Update: June 24, 2011

In This Week’s Lansing Update:

  1. Partial Birth Abortion Ban Moves to Full House
  2. House Commerce Committee Addresses E-Verify Immigration Legislation

Partial Birth Abortion Ban Moves to Full House 

Michigan would be among the growing number of states to outlaw the gruesome practice of partial-birth abortion if the Legislature moves to support House Bills 4109-4110 after the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee this week passed the bill out to the full House of Representatives.

The legislation mirrors the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act that passed Congress and was deemed constitutional by the United States Supreme Court in 2007. The issue has been on ongoing one in Michigan as the legislature on four occasions has passed, overwhelmingly with bipartisan support, a ban on the procedure—only to face the veto pen or to be ruled unconstitutional by the judicial branch.

While HBs 4109-4110 await consideration from the full House, the state Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year also passed legislation to ban partial-birth abortion in Michigan. It is not clear at this time if the House or Senate bill will be the primary legislation that moves through the entire Legislature, which is considerably pro-life. Governor Rick Snyder has indicated his support for the legislation. A statement from the Conference praising the House committee for passing the bill can be read here.

Below is a brief history of legislation that has sought to ban partial-birth abortion in Michigan:

Legislation banning partial-birth abortion sponsored by Representative James Ryan signed into law by Governor John Engler (P.A. 273 of 1996). Michigan becomes first state in the nation to ban partial-birth abortion. Legal challenge filed by American Civil Liberties Union. Legislation deemed unconstitutional by Judge Gerald Rosen on July 31, 1997.
Governor Engler signs “Infant Protection Act” (P.A. 107 of 1999) sponsored by Representative Joel Gougeon, which bans partial-birth abortion. Federal Judge Arthur Tarnow delays effect as the U.S. Supreme Court later ruled Stenberg v. Carhart, a similar partial birth abortion ban in the state of Nebraska, unconstitutional. Judge Tarnow enjoins the Michigan law, citing Stenberg’s control of the Michigan case. Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm fails to appeal the decision.
Governor Jennifer Granholm vetoes the “Legal Birth Definition Act,” sponsored by Senator Michelle McManus, which bans partial birth abortion and declares birth to be at the point where any portion of the child is vaginally delivered outside of the mother’s body. Citizen’s initiative to ban partial birth abortion by bypassing the governor is launched after the Senate falls one vote shy of a veto override. “People’s Override” initiative is successful as hundreds of thousands of signatures prompt the Legislature to address and overwhelmingly support the initiative. Planned Parenthood files suit and U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood later finds the law unconstitutional, citing an “undue burden.” Attorney General Mike Cox appeals the decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which in June 2007 ruled the Legal Birth Definition Act unconstitutional.
Governor Jennifer Granholm again vetoes legislation (Senate Bill 776) that would have banned partial birth abortion in Michigan. The legislation mirrors the federal Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007. SB 776 passed the Senate 24-13 and the House of Representatives 74-32 with wide bipartisan support. Catholic Conference cites Granholm’s “continued indifference toward human life.”

House Commerce Committee Addresses E-Verify Immigration Legislation

Legislation that would mandate all employers in the state to verify the citizenship of foreign-born persons was addressed by the House Commerce Committee this week as several prominent organizations, including Michigan Catholic Conference, prepared to testify against the bills.

E-verify is a federal program that allows employers to verify citizenship status of prospective employees. Many states across the country have addressed this mandate, with states such as Georgia and Alabama recently enacting the proposals. However, statistics prove that E-Verify is a highly flawed system that is prone to error and has separated families and turned away workers erroneously.

Michigan Catholic Conference is prepared to testify against the bills in committee with a message that not only is E-Verify a flawed program but, more importantly, immigration is a federal matter and as such Congress must soon pursue and enact comprehensive immigration reform.

House Bills 4024 and 4026, sponsored by State Representative Dave Agema (R-Grandville) will likely return to the committee for further testimony in the fall.