By: - July 21, 2022 2:26 pm

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives the keynote address at the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference on June 2, 2022 | Allison R. Donahue

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a pair of bills passed by the Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature that would have made it a five-year felony to conduct medical research on stem cells derived from an abortion.

House bills 5558 and 5559, introduced by state Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) and state Rep. Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian), respectively, prohibited and defined sentencing guidelines for “knowingly performing research on a dead fetus, embryo, or neonate obtained from an abortion.”

In her veto letter Thursday, the Democratic governor rejected the premise of the legislation and said the bills politicized research into conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS and leukemia.

“These bills are not rooted in evidence-based policymaking,” said Whitmer. “Instead, they aim to create confusion, spur litigation, and sow fear. I will not sign them.”

At the time of their passage through the House in February, Albert used biblical passages to argue that research involving cells derived from abortions is a “horrific and barbaric practice that has led to the creation of an industry that revolves around the commodification of human beings.”

That assertion was firmly disputed at the time by former Republican state Sen. and U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz, a physician.

“Nobody is suggesting or performing abortions for the simple purpose of harvesting stem cells,” Schwarz previously told the Advance. “This is yet another example of legislative overreach by a Legislature, the vast majority of whom do not understand stem cell research, probably do not even understand what a stem cell is.”

Whitmer on Thursday said the bills were part of a strategy to deny full health care access to women.

“I urge you to discontinue the politicization of health care, end your support for a near-total abortion ban in Michigan, and work together to support women and doctors instead of introducing legislation that endangers people, including your recent bill to put nurses and doctors in jail for providing abortion care,” she said. “I look forward to working with you on more productive legislation in the future.”

On Wednesday, Whitmer vetoed line items in the state’s $76 billion state budget that included more than $20 million of anti-abortion line items, including $10 million for an adoption-over-abortion marketing program, $3 million for anti-abortion pregnancy resource centers and $100,000 for a legal defense of a ban on gender reassignment surgeries for people in state prisons.


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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.