Michigan Legislators Look to Override Granholm Parental Consent Bill Veto

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 23, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Michigan Legislators Look to Override Granholm Parental Consent Bill Veto

byPaul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
February 23, 2004

Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — The state House is ready to attempt an override of Governor Jennifer Granholm’s veto of a pro-life bill that would have strengthened the state’s parental consent law.

The House Government Operation Committee voted 3-2 to send the override on to the full House. A two-thirds majority will be necessary to override Granholm’s veto, 26 votes in the 38-member Senate and 73 votes in the 109-member House. The original votes to pass the legislation were sufficient for an override.

A full House vote could come as early as Tuesday, but it may be delayed until March.

"Achieving an override is very difficult, especially as we ask pro-life legislators from the governor’s party to override her veto," Ed Rivet, Legislative Director of Right to Life of Michigan, told LifeNews.com.

"But the governor went way over the line in claiming this bill protects sexual predators. Even the pro-abortion groups couldn’t come up with a defense for that accusation. We will stand to defend the integrity of this legislation, those who voted for it, and we who supported its passage."

Rivet said that Granholm had not sent anyone from her office to attend the committee hearings and did not defend her veto. While pro-abortion groups including Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and (NARAL) Pro-choice Michigan had representatives present, none of them testified in defense of the veto message.

Granholm and Sue Wagner, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, both said they do not believe the Senate has enough votes to override the veto.

HB 4478 would set guidelines for granting a judicial waiver to allow a minor to seek an abortion without notifying her parents, including the level of her maturity, circumstances of her pregnancy, and how many abortions she has had previously. A judge would also be prohibited from granting a waiver to a minor who has already been denied one by another judge, eliminating "judge shopping" that pro-life leaders say has been taking place.

"According to the State Court Administrative Office, up to 800 bypasses are applied for each year and approximately 90% of those judicial bypass waivers are granted. In many instances, the judicial bypass system has become a rubber-stamp process," Kristen Hemker of Right to Life of Michigan told LifeNews.com.

Appeals Court Judge Christopher Murray told the committee that the bill would help appellate court judges decide whether a trial court judge made the correct decision on a parental consent waiver. Appeals court judges currently don’t have any frame of reference for such decisions, he said.

"Having standards like this … gives protection to the minor and guidance to a judge," Appeals Court Judge Christopher Murray, who heard such cases as a family court judge, told the committee. Currently, said Murray, appeals court judges have no frame of reference to decide if a trial court judge made the right decision in granting or refusing a waiver.

Granholm vetoed the bill earlier this month, stating "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."

While the veto did not surprise pro-life leaders, the reasoning did. Fellow Democrat and bill sponsor Rep. Bill O’Neil likewise took offense to the Governor’s message.

"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."

Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference also expressed their indignation over the reasoning behind the veto. Right to Life of Michigan president Barbara Listing called the veto message "an absolute fabrication."

"According to statistics from the Michigan Department of Community Health, the number of abortions performed on minors has been cut by over 55% and the number of teenagers giving birth has decreased by over 49% since passage of Michigan’s parental consent law in 1990," Hemker said.

The state Department of Community Health said there were 1,744 abortions among girls between ages 15 and 17 in 2001.

ACTION: Contact your state legislators and make your views known about the veto override. You can find your elected officials at https://www.michiganlegislature.org/mileg.asp?page=SponsorSearch

Related web sites:
Gov. Jennifer Granholm – https://www.michigan.gov/gov
Right to Life of Michigan – https://www.rtl.org
Michigan Catholic Conference – https://www.micatholicconference.org