Mackinac crowd erupts in cheers when Whitmer highlights fight to protect abortion rights

By: - June 2, 2022 4:37 pm

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives the keynote address at the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference on June 2, 2022 | Allison R. Donahue

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer received the loudest applause from the audience during her keynote address at the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference Thursday when she mentioned her goals to protect reproductive freedoms in Michigan. 

“As we chase our collective success, we must also be a state where women have bodily autonomy and equal rights,” Whitmer said to the packed crowd of the state’s leading legislators, lobbyists and business leaders.

Without hesitation, the room erupted in cheers and applause.

Whitmer has never been shy about sharing her perspective on reproductive freedom, but now as the U.S. Supreme Court is likely less than a month away from overturning the 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade that enshrined the right to abortion in the U.S. Constitution, she says she is ready to “fight like hell.”

Whitmer filed a lawsuit in April that seeks to recognize the right to an abortion under the state Constitution and strike down the state’s 1931 abortion ban. 

Throughout her speech, Whitmer reflected on the last year in Michigan, touting successful budget negotiations, bipartisan bills signed into law, economic improvements and education investments.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives the keynote address at the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference on June 2, 2022 | Allison R. Donahue

But her message was about improving Michigan for the next century and what today’s leaders will be remembered for by 2100. 

We must also think beyond the year ahead or even the next four years. As we grapple with big questions about our divide and the … fundamental tenets of American democracy, it is hard not to think about our future. About Michigan, 2100,” Whitmer said. 

Whitmer said she wants to “grow the economy, create jobs, lower costs, shore up civil rights, safeguard workers’ rights and protect human rights.”

She also stuck to the theme of the conference: civility. 

“We must show the world that Michigan is a safe, serious place where businesses should invest and more families should call home. … Constant  bitterness, negativity and despair are no way to live,” Whitmer said. “ We can reject cynicism and pessimism and fatalism that are two pervasive today. We can solve problems together. We have an obligation to do so. Let’s keep forging ahead and ensure others experience the joy that comes with our collective success.”


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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.