During the week of March 13, Students for Reproductive Justice, a student organization on Albion’s campus, was collecting signatures to put an initiative on the ballot for the upcoming midterm elections. This initiative would declare reproductive freedom a right protected under Michigan’s state constitution.
Michigan’s midterm elections are scheduled to take place on Nov. 8 with primaries for the election on Aug. 2. Various offices across the state will be up for grabs, including seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and local elections for city council members.
As that date approaches, candidates will begin to make clear what issues they believe will earn them a seat in the halls of power. If elected, these candidates will have a responsibility to fulfill their promises and govern accordingly. The decisions a politician makes impact the well-being of their constituents, regardless of whether a person voted in favor or against.
Women’s History Month highlights the work done and the work needed in the name of equality among the sexes. Of particular note is the issue of reproductive rights.
If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, a Michigan law passed in 1931 could come back into effect, making abortions illegal. Such policies have been tried elsewhere in the country, only to result in those seeking an abortion feeling the need to take matters into their own hands.
“I think everyone should be able to access the healthcare they need at any time, no questions asked,” said Katherine O’Connor, Lombard, Ill. junior and president of Students for Reproductive Justice. “Abortion is part of healthcare”
According to a study published by the Guttmacher Institute in 2003, illegal abortions were commonplace before Roe v. Wade. Estimates of illegal abortion between the 1950s and 1960s ranged somewhere between 200,000 and 1.2 million per year.
One of the biggest indicators of this kind of abortion was the death toll. By 1965, while the number of deaths as a result of illegal abortions had fallen to under 200, illegal abortions still accounted for 17% of deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth.
“I personally support a woman’s right to choose,” said Sheridan Leinbach, Lansing sophomore and president of Albion College Democrats. “Whether that’s birth control, whether that is an abortion, I think every woman needs to make that decision for themselves, where they’re at, and that’s no one else’s choice, and the government should not be regulating it.”
An individual’s bodily autonomy and the right to choose what one wishes to do with their body is an argument brought up in favor of abortion. As an article written by the United Nations Population Fund defines the term, bodily autonomy is about the right and empowerment of an individual to make informed decisions regarding one’s life and future.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court, abortion rights will differ across the country. In some states, such as in Michigan, abortions will become illegal. Abortion becoming a crime will not diminish the number of abortions being had.
In other parts of the country, residents of certain states will be able to have abortions. For those fleeing abortion bans in their home states, they will have to travel farther to be able to receive safe medical procedures. In yet other parts of the country, abortions will be readily accessible to those who are seeking them out.
“It’s not pro-abortion, it’s pro-choice; if we want true equality among the sexes then there needs to be an equality in legislation,” said Leinbach. “I don’t think there can be equality truly among the sexes in any capacity until those laws are equal.”
If there is any interest in signing the petition to place the Michigan Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative on the ballot for the upcoming election, reach out to O’Connor at her email address: email@example.com.