Whitmer to veto pregnancy services language in budget over

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to nix more than $20 million in funding for pregnancy and adoption services on Wednesday when she signs the state’s general budget over concerns it limits a woman’s ability to choose abortion as a means of family planning.

The bulk of that roughly $21.4 million in vetoed funds exists within the Department of Health and Human Services budget and is mostly geared toward “connections to fake women’s health centers or implementation concerns,” according to Whitmer Communications Director Bobby Leddy.

“While politicians in other states rush to ban abortion, even in instances of rape or incest, Michigan must remain a place where a woman’s ability to make her own medical decisions with her trusted health care provider is respected,” he said in a statement. “As such, Governor Whitmer is expected to veto funding for centers that often purport to offer comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion, but don’t, preying on women at a vulnerable time in their lives.”

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Funding expected to be vetoed within the general state budget includes $10 million to fund marketing programs that promote the adoption of infants and to develop factual educational information materials on adoption as an alternative to abortion, “including the ability of the birth mother to establish a pre-birth plan.”

It also comprises:

  • $4 million for grants and other expenditures for safe housing and comprehensive supportive services without charge for pregnant women who are without a safe home and in need statewide, which must include access to health and prenatal care, parenting and life skill development, and services and education for a stable transition to independent living
  • $3 million in grants for a maternal navigator pilot program that would be awarded to a nonprofit counseling – or other similar nonprofit service organization – that promotes childbirth and alternatives to abortion
  • $2 million to fund a tax credit to adoptive parents
  • $1.5 million in grants to pregnancy resource centers operating in the state, which are defined within the budget as private nonprofit organizations that promote childbirth and alternatives to abortion, provide referrals and information, and may also provide other services related to pregnancy or post-pregnancy
  • $700,000 for a pregnancy and parenting support services program, which must promote childbirth, alternatives to abortion, and grief counseling
  • $50,000 to provide notice and information to health care providers and the public that the DHHS shall not use state restricted funds or state general funds, or allow grantees or subcontractors to use those funds, to fund any elective abortion.

Under that section of the budget, an elective abortion is defined as being the intentional use of an instrument, drug, or other substance or device to terminate a woman’s pregnancy for a purpose other than to increase the probability of a live birth, to preserve the life or health of the child after live birth, or to remove a fetus that has died as a result of natural causes, accidental trauma, or a criminal assault on the pregnant woman.

It would not include the treatment of a pregnant woman experiencing a miscarriage or in the midst of an ectopic pregnancy, the use or prescription of a drug/device intended as a contraceptive or the intentional use of an instrument, drug or other substance by a physician to terminate a pregnancy to save the life of a mother.

There is also an additional $100,000 veto expected within the Department of Corrections (MDOC) budget that would establish a legal defense fund related to the prohibition on using state funding for gender reassignment surgeries or therapies while individuals are under the jurisdiction of the agency.

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As to why the governor would veto funding toward pregnancy resource centers, Leddy said the administration believed the entities utilized “deceptive advertising that target young women and women with low incomes who are seeking abortion care … and then lie to women about medical facts.”

“Governor Whitmer supports legislation that provides every possible resource to women who are pregnant, seeking to start a family, or those who aren’t ready yet, but she cannot support aspects of a bill that sends millions in taxpayer dollars to fake health centers that intentionally withhold information from women about their health, bodies and full reproductive freedom,” he said.

Upon news of the intended vetoes Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, accused the governor of failing to support women should she nix the funding specific to maternal health care.

“The governor claims to be a voice for ‘choice,’ but her actions clearly support only one option for women in a crisis pregnancy – the deadly choice of abortion,” said Albert, chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “The governor is doubling down on her self-contradictory belief that abortion is somehow ‘life-sustaining,’ as she has stated in the past. It is shocking that the governor, and her far left political base, are now so extreme that helping pregnant women who might consider adoption instead is now a bridge too far … Let’s be clear – this funding is not about access to abortion. It’s about helping women in need and actually sustaining life.”

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Whitmer is expected to give the final OK to the remaining funding within a roughly $75.7 billion budget – the largest in state history – at some point on Wednesday. As part of that bill, the DHHS is expected to receive just over $33 billion in funding for items such as one-time funding to fund a variety of mental health facilities across the state and cost adjustments for traditional Medicaid.

Other departments or entities funded under the general budget include Department of Agriculture and Rural Development ($187.7 million), Department of Corrections ($2.1 billion), Department of Education ($420.6 million), Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy ($728.7 million), Department of Insurance and Financial Services ($74.3 million), Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs ($539.8 million), Department of Military and Veterans Affairs ($347.4 million), Department of State Police ($823.7 million) and for the state’s judiciary branch ($483.5 million).

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