Michigan abortion funding ban stirs passionate debate

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

The state House Appropriations Committee heard passionate testimony Wednesday on proposed legislation that would prohibit state funding for any entity that provides abortion services, including Planned Parenthood.

Michigan’s current state budget does not provide funding for Planned Parenthood. But Rep. Thomas Hooker, R-Byron Center, who introduced the legislation, said he wants the state to make a permanent practice of not funding such organizations.

Supporters with Right to Life of Michigan, the Michigan Catholic Conference and other groups argued that abortions take the lives of human beings and are harmful to mothers. Opponents contended the bill could potentially reduce funding for family planning and preventive health services, which represent the preponderance medical care that Planned Parenthood provides.

Dan Jarvis, research and policy director with the Michigan Family Forum, said Michigan has a history of supporting a “culture of life,” which House Bill 4145 would continue that support.

“Abortion hurts women,” said Rebecca Mastee, a policy advocate with the Michigan Catholic Conference. “Physically, mentally and emotionally.”

But Lori Carpentier, president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, told the committee that “For many of our 71,000 patients, coming to a Planned Parenthood center is the only health care they will receive in a given year.”

Planned Parenthood provides about 20 percent of abortions performed in Michigan, Carpentier said. More than 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are routine well-patient visits, preventive health care like birth control, annual exams, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV testing and sexuality education.

The committee has not yet set a date for a vote on the legislation.