by Macomb Co. Commissioner and State Senate Candidate Veronica Klinefelt
As a woman who came of age after Roe v. Wade, it’s difficult to believe that my daughters now live in a world where they have fewer choices than the women of my generation did.
In a post-Dobbs world, abortion is no longer protected by the US Constitution. As Republicans led by South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham move to pass a federal abortion ban, it’s critical that we send pro-choice candidates to Washington DC.
But for now, in the absence of federal action, everything is left to be decided by and in the states.
This is new ground for those of us who grew up after Roe. Many of us never would have evaluated a candidate for state or local office based on their position on abortion.
What power does your local state legislator or an elections official have over our reproductive rights?
Shockingly, the answer is quite a lot.
In August, we saw the Board of Canvassers fail to certify the proposed state constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights. The members who voted “no” disingenuously cited spacing issues as their reason for denying the people of Michigan the chance to vote on abortion rights directly.
If the State Supreme Court hadn’t acted, then the issue would not have made the ballot this year. These are folks who clearly let their views against abortion dictate what should have been a non-controversial decision: a petition with more than 750,000 signatures should have made the ballot.
While the Board of Canvassers is not elected, they are appointed and confirmed by people who are – including the State Senate. Now that Roe has been overturned, our senators should take into account whether nominees to other boards could find ways to block abortion rights—and ask them if they would.
The Michigan Legislature also now holds even greater power to protect or restrict abortion rights. Even if the reproductive freedom amendment passes, Republicans will no doubt try to undermine it, either by challenging its legitimacy or finding legal loopholes to justify further efforts to restrict abortion access.
While I will always stand with Michigan women in their freedom to make their own decisions about their bodies and futures, my opponent, Sen. Michael MacDonald, introduced a resolution “declaring a right to life” for every fetus, and calling for the enforcement of all laws to restrict abortion in Michigan.
In the last few months, we’ve seen the world turned upside down.
Both a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio and a 36-year-old Louisana woman who was carrying a fetus without a skull had to travel out of state to terminate their pregnancies. It’s not crazy to think the same could happen in Michigan, with GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon stating that a 14-year-old rape victim should be forced to give birth. I myself lost a pregnancy that was very much wanted, but my body did not naturally miscarry, so I had to get a procedure that would likely be illegal under an abortion ban.
It is not hyperbole to say that the health and lives of women are at stake in this election, and that local positions that we never dreamed would have an impact on reproductive rights are now more important than ever. So if you’re coming out to vote “YES” on Proposal 3, the constitutional amendment for reproductive freedom, remember to vote for pro-choice candidates on every other line of your ballot.
Macomb Co. Commissioner Veronica Klinefelt is a Democrat running for State Senate in District 11—which includes Eastpointe, Fraser, Roseville, and parts of Detroit, Clinton and Macomb townships.