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With Roe in doubt, Michigan GOP budget seeks to deny funding to providers

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Michigan Republicans are including anti-abortion measures in budgets they passed this week. They face an all-but-certain veto. (Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com)

LANSING — Michigan Republicans this week passed budget plans that prevent abortion providers from receiving state or federal funds and set aside $750,000 to defend the state’s 1931 prohibition on abortion.

A veto from Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is all but certain, but House Appropriations Chair Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, said Republicans have a “moral obligation to continue to fight for life.”

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“I have to try,” he said. “I can't make her sign stuff…I can't speak to what she's going to do. All I can know is what I'm going to push for.” 

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The jockeying comes days after a leaked draft opinion indicated the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, a 1973 opinion that established abortion as a nationwide right.

If it is overturned, a 1931 Michigan law would take effect that makes abortion a felony. Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel has said she won’t defend the law in court, but the Republican budget sets aside money to do so.

Republicans’ budget plan is tie-barred to a policy bill that would prevent Planned Parenthood of Michigan and other abortion providers from being eligible for Medicaid dollars. 

The state Senate also passed budget language this week that would prohibit funding for entities that provide abortions or abortion-related services, although it would not apply to Medicaid or related programs as it would in the House proposal. 

The effort is part of a slew of budget bills passed through the House and Senate this week. 

The plans largely serve as a statement of priorities for the Republican majority in each chamber, as most of the bills were not supported by legislative Democrats.

It’s still early in the process, and the Republican-led House and Senate have yet to negotiate with each other and the governor’s administration to reach an agreement on how to fund state agencies, schools and other government programs ahead of the new fiscal year in October. 

Earlier this week, the Senate passed a $74.2 billion overall budget plan, while the House passed a $76.3 billion plan. 

Whitmer’s plan clocks in at $74.1 billion.

Abortion has long divided lawmakers along party lines. 

As the majority party in the Legislature, Republicans have rejected efforts to repeal the 1931 law on the books making abortion a felony in Michigan. But with Whitmer in the governor’s office, legislative policy or spending proposals that would restrict abortion access have been vetoed. 

Legislative Democrats this week objected to efforts to loop anti-abortion initiatives into state funding and attempted to add amendments to state budget bills that would have provided funding to assist people seeking abortions, which were rebuffed. 

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Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, D-Livonia, this week also sought to discharge legislation she introduced that would give Michigan residents the “fundamental right” to abortions and other reproductive healthcare services from committee, where it had not received a hearing. 

“Although we know the makeup of the Legislature makes it difficult to advance our goals, those of us who believe in the health care rights of Michiganders will use every available option to protect those rights,” Pohutsky said in a Thursday statement. 

House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinksi, D-Scio Township, told reporters Thursday she considered the budget “overtly political, overtly discriminatory and overtly cruel,” but said she trusted Whitmer’s ability to prevent the proposals from becoming law.  

“With her line-item pen, I am confident that there will be no setbacks,” Lasinksi said. “In Michigan there's freedom under her watch. What we need to be clear about…is the trigger 1931 law that will endanger so many across our state.”

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