Hey folks! It’s Abby, Amanda, Nicole, Kai, and Ben here, and we’re young people from across Michigan! Like many of you, we are heading into 2023 feeling rejuvenated and hopeful from our monumental Prop 3 (Reproductive Freedom for All) win. In 2022, we finally enshrined every Michigander’s legal rights to holistic reproductive health care!
As excited and relieved as we are for Prop 3, we’re writing to urge you to keep fighting with us for young people’s access to reproductive health care! The passage of Proposal 3 is not the end-all-be-all and the win won’t look the same for everyone. Adults will reap more benefits from this policy relative to young people—especially those of us who are BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, lower income, rural, and Disabled. As young people, we still need everyone to support our fight for inclusive sex education, greater contraceptive access (especially in schools), removal of the forced parental consent mandate for abortion care, increased access to vaccines such as HPV, and autonomy over our bodies.
We need you to come into the new year with a recharged spirit ready to keep fighting so this legal right meaningfully translates to access for all Michiganders — especially MI youth. As young people, we fought hard for Prop 3 despite knowing we are constantly infantilized and erased from any conversation about pregnancy-related issues. In any way we could get involved, you name it, we did it. Hosted rallies? Check. Shared our healthcare experiences and stories? Check. Collected signatures to get the initiative on the ballot? Check. Text- and phone-banked to anyone we know to get support for Prop 3? Check! And for those of us who could vote, we voted yes on Prop 3. We fought hard for this legal victory because reproductive freedom, for all, is crucial. We fought hard for this legal victory because reproductive freedom, for all, is crucial.
Wondering why reproductive freedoms mean so much to us? Take our experiences for example.
Amanda: Being half Afro-Latino, even though I have privileges I benefit from, I still have to deal with the stigma of promiscuity that automatically comes with my mixed identity. A key role in the disproportionate amount of sexual violence Latin American individuals suffer from (specifically for Latinos assigned female at birth) is caused by our assumed sexual nature. I’m worried that I will become another statistic. Consequently, if something is non-consensually done to my body, I want to have access to contraceptives and abortion. But instead, it might be assumed that I brought this upon myself. I believe our society can, and should, move beyond the bounds of perpetuated stereotypes—sexual health and sexual health education needs to be more accessible.
Nicole: As a young Black woman, I never really thought repro healthcare concerned me because I was in high school. But then I wrote a research paper on the poor quality healthcare Black people receive when they live in rural areas and poverty. I learned that Black people face higher rates of maternal morbidity and mortality, and that Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women. I remember thinking, that could be me—I could be mistreated for something so minor, and I could die. I may not be taken seriously.
No one should have to have a death that could be solved so easily. I want Black women like myself to know they have a choice. I ask that you join our fight with every young person in mind.
Ben: It’s crucial to remember that reproductive healthcare affects more people than just women. Transgender and nonbinary people deserve the right to choose just like anyone else, especially as a vulnerable minority. Trans people face social stigma, figuring out their identity, and defending their choices to people who will never understand. It’s hard enough to exist as a trans person in this country, let alone worry about situations that could be prevented with reproductive healthcare. If we’re in a position to take care of each other, why wouldn’t we strive to create a supportive environment?
Kai: For me as a trans person, increasing young people’s access to contraception and abortion is really important because I know that now I wouldn’t be forced to carry a pregnancy for nine months and be even more dysphoric for nine months. I don’t know if I could survive and that’s the case for a lot of trans-masculine/AFAB people. When Prop 3 passed, I felt safer. It felt relieving. But I know we still have so much work to do.
Abby: Now we’re asking you to fight with us—all of us young people—especially those of us who are BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Disabled, lower income, rural, and more for our access to better reproductive healthcare. When one community is left behind, we all suffer. As we set expectations and goals for this new year, please remember that Prop 3 is not the end-all-be-all. Fight with us to combat the overwhelming barriers we face to our healthcare, such as money, reliable transportation, knowing where to go or what to do, forced parental consent mandates for minors needing vaccines and abortion. These barriers translate to insufficient access for young people. We need to support young people by advocating for quality and honest sex education in schools, removal of forced parental consent mandates that are skewed to keep minors pregnant against their will, improved access to contraceptives, and inclusive and medically accurate care. Listen to us.