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Whitmer vetoes anti-abortion, stem-cell restriction measures in education budget

By: - July 18, 2022 11:12 am

Hundreds rally at the state Capitol for the MI Body MI Choice event on Oct. 2, 2021 | Allison R. Donahue

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a number of line items Thursday in the state education budget that tied higher education funding to anti-abortion pregnancy resource centers and research grants that prohibit funding for embryonic stem-cell research. 

The line items struck from the state’s $22.2 billion education budget include nearly $1 million for “pregnant and parenting student services” at community college and university campuses. The initial budget language would have allowed these pregnancy resource centers to provide referrals for prenatal care and delivery, infant or foster care, adoption and family planning, but would ban the office from making referrals for abortions. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spends time with people attending a rally protesting the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022. | Photo by Andrew Roth

The state’s School Aid Fund, which Whitmer signed last week, includes $19.6 billion for K-12 education and $2.6 billion for higher education. 

Whitmer said these items would “harm women’s health care” and make it “harder for women to get the health care they need.”

“Any efforts to undermine a woman’s ability to make her own medical decisions with her trusted health care provider will earn my disapproval,” Whitmer said in a letter to lawmakers Thursday. “Women and doctors should be making health care decisions — not politicians.”

The Democratic governor also vetoed $5 million set aside for state universities to conduct “ethical stem cell/fetal tissue research” because of its caveat that restricted universities from conducting research on aborted fetal tissue.

Whitmer said this line item was “unconstitutional” because it undermines the universities’ constitutional right to have general supervision and control of their own funds. Michigan voters in 2008 approved a constitutional amendment permitting embryonic stem-cell research amid pushback from anti-abortion groups and officials. 

Whitmer is expected to sign the state’s General Government budget this week.

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.

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