Abortion is not the best growth strategy for Mich.

There are more people dying in Michigan than being born.

In 2021, the state had more deaths than births in a year for only the second time since at least 1900.

Michigan is in a dangerous position of losing its population without the ability to replace it with immigration — or its own fertility rate. Long-term, that will mean not just declining economic growth, but also a loss of political clout.

Michigan’s fertility rate has generally been slightly lower than the national average for 60 years, and its long-term trajectory isn’t good.

Yet Gov. Gretchen Whitmer highlighted the state’s ultra-permissive abortion environment as one of its main attractions in her fifth State of the State speech Wednesday night, pitching it as a growth strategy.

As part of an appeal to retain a younger workforce and encourage child-bearing-aged people to grow their families here, the governor said: “The other half of attracting and retaining young people is standing up for their freedoms. Just a few months ago, Michiganians told us that people should be able to make their own decisions about their own bodies.”

The governor continued: “I’ve also heard from folks like Lauren, who grew up in Traverse City and wants to move back to start a family but waited until she knew her reproductive rights would be protected. Lauren, I want you and anyone living in a state that wants to control your body or deny your existence to know that Michigan has a place for you.”

The governor is right that voters legalized abortion. But effectively making it part of the Pure Michigan campaign to attract new residents is unseemly.

There are a lot of other things that will help lure and retain people of child-bearing age besides the promise of abortion access.

For example, streamlining regulations so that entrepreneurs can more easily open up shop here and help diversify the state’s economic portfolio would be one way.

Creating an urban agenda that helps struggling cities become places where young people can safely live and raise a family is another idea.

And fixing the state’s abysmal education system would certainly help retain people of family-rearing ages.

That means going beyond investing in preschool and dramatically improving outcomes for our state’s kids, continuing to bring down the cost of higher education and finding innovative ways to make Michigan a high-tech magnet.

We understand the governor’s strategy in boasting about reproductive rights, considering our nearest neighbors, Ohio and Indiana, continue for the moment to restrict abortion. But potential new residents, particularly younger ones, are looking for opportunity and a great place to raise their children.

The governor should remember, too, that a large percentage of Americans don’t favor the sort of wide-open abortion environment voters approved in November and might be turned off by her casting Michigan as the abortion state.

The goal should be creating a Michigan in which people who want kids and those who don’t feel equally welcome.

— Detroit News


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