Lansing Update: MCC Moves to Intervene in Planned Parenthood Lawsuit and more…

In this update:

MCC and Right to Life Seek to Defend State Law Protecting Unborn

Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC), along with Right to Life (RTL) of Michigan, are seeking to intervene in a lawsuit threatening the state's nearly-century old law protecting unborn children.

The action comes in response to lawsuits filed by Planned Parenthood against the Attorney General challenging Michigan's 1931 abortion ban. Attorney General Dana Nessel has said she will not defend the law against the legal challenge.

MCC and RTL are represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which filed the proposed friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of MCC and RTL. The brief argues the lawsuit is predicated on the hypothetical situation of the U.S. Supreme Court ending the nationwide allowance of abortion in a ruling expected later this year.

"We urge the court to swiftly dismiss this case because it not only lacks jurisdiction -- both sides of the case are arguing for the exact same outcome -- but also because it is based on a hypothetical situation," said John Bursch, senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy for ADF, in a press release issued Wednesday.

"Michigan's elected officials have a duty to uphold the law and protect all their citizens, including the innocent lives of unborn children," Bursch said. "Yet what we're seeing is the state's top attorney engaged in an unacceptable effort to attack a pro-life law that has existed peaceably with the state Constitution for more than half a century."

While Michigan's abortion ban -- which dates to 1846 and updated in 1931 - has laid dormant since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed for nationwide access to abortion in 1973, the state law has been upheld by Michigan courts on at least two occasions in that timeframe.

In 1973 - the year Roe was decided - the Michigan Supreme Court upheld Michigan's 1931 law in a case that sought prosecution of a non-doctor who had planned to carry out an abortion. And in 1997, the state Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that had suggested Michigan's constitution included a right to abortion. The appellate court firmly stated that "we find that the right of privacy under the Michigan Constitution does not include the right to abortion."

ADF is also asking for the judge appointed to hear the Planned Parenthood case to recuse herself from the case, because she gives annual contributions to Planned Parenthood and has represented both Planned Parenthood and ACLU in the past. The ACLU is representing Planned Parenthood in this lawsuit.

Help Defeat Planned Parenthood's Anything Goes Abortion Amendment

Planned Parenthood is also backing a dangerous constitutional amendment to allow for unlimited abortion access in Michigan. MCC is opposing that effort as part of the Citizens to Support MI Women & Children coalition.

MCC and the Catholic bishops of this state have encouraged Michiganders to avoid signing the radical, anything-goes abortion amendment that could do away with all of Michigan's pro-life laws. We also encourage all Catholics to:

Act Now to Expand Education Opportunities for All Low-Income Students

Time is running short to add your signature to a petition to expand education opportunities for low-income students across the state.

Petition sheets associated with the Let MI Kids Learn proposal are due to be mailed back to the campaign in early May ahead of a June 1 deadline to submit to the state for consideration.

Catholic parishes and schools across the state are encouraged to have their members sign the petitions and collect signatures to create a scholarship program to give low-income families money toward out-of-pocket education expenses.

To learn how to sign a petition or get involved with the collection efforts, contact your parish for more information. The campaign website also has a list of petition-signing locations by county. For more information, visit the campaign website.

State Budget Process Picking Up This Week and Next

The process to approve a state budget for the fiscal year starting October 1 is picking up steam in the Legislature, and MCC is watching proposed spending items of interest across multiple spending bills.

Next week, the Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to take up several budget proposals. In the state House, several appropriations subcommittees are expected to take up and send budget proposals to the full House Appropriations Subcommittee next week, as well.

MCC will likely have more updates on where those budgets stand in next week's report.

Earth Day a Reminder to Care for Our Common Home and One Another

Today marks Earth Day, the annual reminder to promote sustainable environmental practices and care for our common home.

The Catholic Church in recent years has seen a renewed interest in promoting the care of the environment, led by Pope Francis, who published Laudato Si in 2015, which urged all people to "acknowledge the appeal, immensity and urgency of the challenge we face" in better caring for our planet.

Pope Francis also broadened the conversation of caring for the environment to include promoting the dignity of work, importance of family, and the need for technology and the economy to be focused on people. And all throughout the document, the Pope kept a focus on the poor, who experience the worst impacts of environmental deterioration and exclusion.

Today, in recognition of Earth Day, Pope Francis wrote on his Twitter account that "we all need to make a contribution to halt the destruction of our common home and to restore nature: governments, businesses and citizens - we must act like brothers and sisters who share the Earth, the common home that God has given us."

Care for creation is one of MCC's core advocacy principles, in recognizing that the natural environment is a gift from God, offering notable beauty and providing necessary resources for Michigan communities.

Enjoying these resources, however, also comes with a responsibility to cultivate and care for the Earth. Because those in poverty are disproportionately impacted by pollution and waste, public policies are enhanced when the health of the environment and the health of individuals are discussed.

MCC supports policies such as ensuring access to safe and affordable drinking water and the responsible stewardship of natural resources.

For more about Church teaching on the care for our common home, please see our edition of FOCUS highlighting the Pope's encyclical Laudato Si.