Op-ed: Why abortion access matters and what we’re doing about it in Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has taken bold action to protect legal abortion in Michigan

click to enlarge Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II. - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II.

In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court of the United States will issue a consequential decision on whether to overturn Roe v. Wade, which guarantees the constitutional right to an abortion. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, an antiquated, extreme law still on the books in Michigan will outlaw abortion in virtually all cases, including rape and incest. No matter how we personally feel about abortion, we must come together to ensure our fellow Michiganders have the freedom to make healthcare decisions for themselves and their families without the interference of politicians in Lansing.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has taken bold action to protect legal abortion in Michigan. If abortion becomes illegal in Michigan, 2.2 million women in Michigan will lose access. Here is why that matters to me as someone who cares deeply about every Michigander’s right to bodily autonomy.

First, it is important for women and families to make their own decisions about whether to become parents. Starting a family is one of the most important and personal decisions anyone can make. And having a child is the biggest economic decision a woman and a family will make in their lifetimes. If a woman is forced to continue a pregnancy against her will, it can have devastating consequences, including keeping families in poverty and making it harder for women and families to make ends meet. With many Michigan families trying to make every penny count, we must ensure Michiganders can make these major decisions for themselves and their families.

Second, since the beginning of my career, I have fought for equity and justice for marginalized and underrepresented communities. Access to abortion is a critical component of our fight for equality. When we deny women the ability to make their own decisions about their bodies and lives, we treat them as second-class citizens. This matters to everyone of every gender who cares about equal rights. Women of color are disproportionately impacted by attacks on abortion access, and people with low incomes feel the effects in enormous ways, like being unable to afford reproductive healthcare or traveling out of state to receive it. This is about justice, gender equality, racial equality, and economic equality. We must continue our work to promote equity and justice in every Michigan community. Let us build a Michigan where no one must grapple with the racial, income, or gender-based health disparities we have worked so hard to end.

Finally, it’s what we believe. Michiganders pride ourselves in coming together and standing up for our neighbors and fellow citizens. Again and again, we have proven our capacity to help each other and overcome our shared challenges. Seven in 10 Michiganders support the rights affirmed by Roe v. Wade. The issue is settled among Michiganders who have made it clear that we must protect our communities’ access to abortion care.

At the end of the day, protecting the freedom of women and families to make their own decisions is the right thing to do. When any one of us loses our constitutional rights, it hurts all of us. Governor Whitmer and I ran for public office because we wanted to stand up and do what is right. We will continue to uphold the oaths we swore, and we will continue to put Michiganders first, no matter what.

Garlin Gilchrist II is the Lieutenant Governor of Michigan.

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About The Author

Garlin Gilchrist II

Garlin Gilchrist II is the 64th Lieutenant Governor of Michigan.
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