Moderate Republican vetoes Democratic-led abortion bill

    William Milliken

    It was a different time, to be sure.  

    On this day in 1978, Michigan Gov. William Milliken vetoed a bill to ban state-funded abortions.

    “This bill effectively would deny poor women of this state the same opportunity to exercise the same legal rights as other members of society,” the Traverse City Republican said at the time.

    It was the third time in 1978 that the moderate governor had vetoed such legislation. Interestingly enough, Democrats had a voting majority in both the state House and Senate. Bobby Crim of Flint served as House speaker; William Faust of Westland served as Senate majority leader.

    On the latest attempt, Milliken declared further:  “I cannot, in good conscience, be a party to such action.”

    One of the Lame Duck bills on the desk of GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, who Milliken twice endorsed, would permanently ban telemedicine exams for abortion. That bill failed to win bipartisan support in the GOP-controlled Legislature.

    Rick Snyder

    Milliken served as governor for 13 years beginning on January 22, 1969. He had been re-elected to a third term in November of the year.

    As lieutenant governor, Milliken assumed the role as the state’s top official after Gov. George Romney had been tapped to serve in the Richard M. Nixon administration as head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    Milliken announced that he would not seek re-election in late 1981. The 96-year-old currently resides in his hometown.

    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman reports on Southeast Michigan, education, civil rights and voting rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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