Armand Jackson, Tri-City Record
With reproductive rights at stake now more than ever before, voters in the electoral battleground state of Michigan look to the midterm elections to see whether the new governor will expand or restrict abortion rights. Tudor Dixon, the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for governor who won the state’s GOP primary, will face incumbent Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer on November 8th. Dixon supports a total ban on abortion, believes the only exception should be to save the life of the pregnant individual, and favors the 1931 abortion ban. This law is considered one of the strictest in the country since it would make almost all abortions considered a felony with possible penalties of up to four years in prison for both doctors who assist in abortions and pregnant people who use medication for self-abortions. Dixon has also received donations from and been endorsed by the Right to Life of Michigan Political Action Committee.
In an interview with The No BS Newshour (37:40) Dixon called a hypothetical 14-year-old victim of incestuous rape as a “perfect example” of someone to not receive abortion care, stating that “A life is a life for me, that’s how it is, that’s my feeling.” There are real victims of sexual assult who end up pregnant at a young age. One prominent example that made national news was the 10 year old girl from Ohio who traveled to Indiana for the procedure. There is a scarce amount of research and statistics on these specific cases, and rape-related pregnancies in general when it comes to abortion care.
This is most likely due to the high percentage of sexual assault cases that go unreported since survivors often fear of reliving the trauma, being victimized again, having their allegations be misconstrued by others, not being believed, or worse, being blamed for the assault. A number of health care professionals in the state disapprove of Dixon’s anti-abortion stance, especially in the case of young victims of sexual assault. Dr. Lawrence UIlmer, a family practice physician, said: “The idea of forcing victims of rape and incest to carry pregnancies to term, is inhumane and goes against all medical ethics.”
Dixon also seems dismissive of the fact that a majority of state voters did not approve of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade; believe that abortion should be a choice made by women and not regulated by law; and disapprove of the 1931 abortion ban as well as believe that it needs to be repealed. There is also a recent polling from Detroit News which showed that 86 percent of respondents said a candidate’s position on Roe would be important in deciding their vote this November.
An even bigger indication of the high number of Michiganders who value reproductive rights, are the two recently filed ballot measures with record number of signatures that aim to enshrine and expand both abortion rights and voting rights into the Michigan Constitution. The ballot measure for abotion rights collected and turned in 753,759 signatures, a record amount that exceeds the state mandated signature tally by more than 300,000. And the ballot measure for expansive voting rights collected and turned in 669,972 signatures, also setting record numbers exceeding the state’s mandated signature tally.
As the days and weeks progress, the legality of abortion in Michigan seem to change on a daily if not hourly, basis. Governor Whitmer has taken action to defend abortion rights in Michigan having recently filed an amicus brief with the Michigan Supreme Court in support of preserving the statewide injunction issued in mid-May that prevents enforcement of the 1931 abortion ban. All while the Republican majority in the state legislature and local county officials, like the Kent County and Jackson County prosecutors, intend to enforce the ban.