Michigan women fight to keep abortions, one chat at a time

Utica, Michigan – At a wine bar in suburban Detroit, a dozen or so women strategize how to preserve wine. right to abortion in their state.

This was not your typical political event. We had no microphones, no materials to distribute, and few people considered themselves activists. Among them was the mother of four, a busy medical student, and her 75-year-old retired teacher, whose only political experience so far was driving late school start times. .

“But I feel strongly about abortion,” said Mary Ann Messano-Gadula. “Women should be in control of their bodies,” she said.

Messano-Gadula, who attended the “Vino the Vote” event in late September with two friends, said he was the shyest. But she said she will do what organizers ask of attendees. She posted a message on Facebook and texted some friends to try to convince them to support a constitutional amendment to guarantee abortion rights.

“I’ll try,” she said.

Across Michigan this year, a similar, more An intimate event is taking place.

Michigan is one of the few places where abortion rights will be voted in November. US Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade ruled in June, leaving the matter to the states to decide. The ban approved in 1931 was suspended and then seized by state court However, there is no guarantee that this procedure will not be outlawed one day.

It mobilized the people of Michigan as it did in previous elections this cycle. Including Kansas and New York. And it can have far-reaching implications beyond the state.

Michigan is one of the most competitive presidential battlegrounds in the country. It was also one of the states where former President Donald Trump and his allies tried to reverse their 2020 loss to Joe Biden by falsely claiming the election was stolen. , which also determines statewide offices, such as governor and secretary of state, to be placed for the 2024 elections.

The gubernatorial campaign is already centered around abortion.Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer filed a lawsuit Before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn the 1931 ban, she said she would “use every tool in my toolbox to continue fighting like hell for women and health care providers.” Said Republican Party Tudor DixonI oppose abortion unless it saves my mother’s life.

The issue is already a hot topic among voters, with opposition from Republicans and abortion opponents. Reproductive Freedom for All, Coalition for Abortion Rights Amendment, Collected over 750,000 signatures This was more than any other voting initiative in Michigan’s history.

The opposition came to power at a meeting of the National Council, the once-stagnant panel that decides which questions and candidates are eligible for vote. While anti-abortion demonstrators outside the building could be heard in the hearing room, the board split along party lines, with two Republicans voting against and two Democrats voting for. voted.it meant countermeasures was not eligible to votebut Reproductive Freedom for All appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, where a majority of judges were appointed by Democrats. ordered to wear.

Red, Wine & Blue, the organization that hosted the wine bar gathering, is one of the members of Michigan’s RFFA Federation. Their strategy is to ask suburban women, a key floating population in recent elections, to reach out and talk to their friends, family and other acquaintances, and to vote.

Known as relational organization, this model was successfully used by candidates such as Senator John Ossoff of Georgia. won the runoff vote to help Democrats gain control of the U.S. SenatePete Buttigieg, who went from being a little-known mayor of South Bend, Indiana, to becoming a front-runner for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

Greta Kearns, who led Buttigieg’s campaign, said it was particularly effective in bringing out suburban women and the sensitive and personal issue of abortion. Also, this approach is more efficient and effective. Because people can reach dozens over text in minutes, and voters who receive a message from someone they know are more likely to read and consider it than delete it.

“Especially on issues like abortion, activists alone cannot knock on doors,” Kearns said.

Lakshmi Vadramdi, a medical student from Franklin, Michigan, saw the power of leveraging her personal network this summer when she helped collect signatures to put a question on abortion to a vote. did. She told some friends that she would one day be in the parking lot collecting signatures, and the rumor spread like wildfire.

Vadlamudi started getting text messages from people asking him to come to his house to sign. She hoped that her Indian “aunties”, women close to her but unrelated, would circulate their petitions. Some had health workers in their family and feared the legal repercussions of having an abortion if the 1931 ban went into effect, while others worried about her daughters and granddaughters. They ended up with 20 filled petitions.

“We got as much as we could get,” recalls Vadlamudi. “People kept asking,” she said, and her interest in the issue never stopped.

Red, Wine & Blue’s Michigan group aims to reach 157,000 voters in the state through these “relational” contacts, said Katie Paris, the organization’s national director. Kelly Dillaha, the group’s leader in Michigan, said they are recruiting 5,000 women to contact the network and report their progress to the group via an app.

A mother of four from Rochester Hills, Kathy Nitz started working at Red, Wine & Blue after volunteering at her children’s schools. These issues always felt like a “safe” topic, she said. It’s a name that characters in the “Harry Potter” books fear uttering might pose a great danger.

But Nitz has grown accustomed to the topic and even discusses the nuances with her mother, who is very Catholic and anti-abortion. I believe that there is a possibility of accumulating.

“As a suburban woman myself and as a mother myself, I find that we are underrepresented. rice field. “We build communities, we network. That’s what we’ve always done.”


Associated Press reporters Aaron Kessler of Washington and Joey Cappelletti of Lansing, Michigan contributed to this report.


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https://www.news4jax.com/news/politics/2022/10/01/michigan-women-fight-to-preserve-abortion-1-chat-at-a-time/ Michigan women fight to keep abortions, one chat at a time

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