Michigan Gov. Vetoes Parental Consent Bill, Claims It Enables Abuse
by Steven Ertelt
February 6, 2004
Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Friday vetoed legislation that would have strengthened the state’s parental consent abortion law. Granholm claimed that the law would have given cover to sexual predators who abuse or molest teenage girls.
"House Bill 4478 is not about protecting our children," Granholm said in vetoing the pro-life bill. "Instead it would place many minors at risk. The bill would shield child abusers, including the worst kind of sexual predator — a parent or guardian who rapes his own child — behind legal presumptions."
State Rep. Bill O’Neill, also a Democrat, took umbrage with the governor’s remarks.
"It’s almost like it’s trying to criminalize me and criminalize my legislation," O’Neil told the Associated Press. "This legislation doesn’t have a word in it that would place any minors at any greater risk."
In response to the veto, Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said, "Governor Granholm’s claim that this legislation would protect sexual predators is an absolute fabrication. There’s not an ounce of truth to her argument."
Michigan’s parental consent law requires teens to obtain permission from their parents before obtaining an abortion. A Supreme Court-mandated judicial bypass allows judges to waive the requirement in cases of abuse.
However, abortion advocates have taken advantage of the judicial bypass by hiring attorneys to "shop" for judges who will consistently approve such bypasses, whether or not they are necessary. According to the State Court Administrative Office, up to 800 bypasses are applied for each year and approximately 90% of those waivers are granted.
Michigan lawmakers supported the legislation to make the judicial override of parental rights less of a "rubber-stamp" process.
Pro-life groups said teens who are victims of abuse need help, not abortions.
The Michigan Catholic Conference also expressed its "indignation" at Granholm’s reasoning.
"Despite the Governor’s veto message [the bill] does not alter Michigan’s parental consent law requiring the court to report all cases of child sexual abuse nor does it alter Michigan’s Child Protection Law," said Sister Monica Kostielney, president of the group.
"It is one thing to have honest policy differences when it comes to legislation, but to hide behind falsehoods is something we will not accept," Listing added. "People in Michigan deserve the truth, especially from our Governor."
The pro-life bill obtained enough votes in both chambers to successfully override Granholm’s veto. The vote of two-thirds of both chambers is needed to override.
House Speaker Rick Johnson (R) said representatives would discuss next week whether or not to vote to override the veto and a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema said the Senate would likely follow the House’s lead.