Nessel, Dingell lead U of M rally backing abortion and voting rights ballot proposals

‘Some of you may find yourself in the situation that I was in,’ Nessel says

By: - October 4, 2022 3:07 am

Attorney General Dana Nessel at U of M on Oct. 3, 2022 | Ken Coleman

Elected officials and activists on Monday rallied for reproductive freedom and voting rights measures that are on the Nov. 8 ballot during an event at the Diag on University of Michigan campus.

“We have to vote yes on Proposal 3,” said state Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat who is vying for re-election in November against GOP nominee Matthew DePerno. 

Michigan voters will have the chance to enshrine the right to abortion and birth control in the state Constitution with Proposal 3, known as Reproductive Freedom for All. Activists also championed Proposal 2, the Promote the Vote constitutional amendment expanding voting rights.

Nessel shared her story from almost 20 years ago when she was pregnant with triplets. After trying “for years to get pregnant” and finally being successful, she made a decision to have an abortion that her physican advised her was necessary to preserve her health and that of her two other fetuses. 

It resulted in saving two of the three children that she was carrying. 

“I took my doctor’s advice. I had a procedure and now I have two beautiful 19-year-old boys,” Nessel told about 200 rally participants. 

“That was a choice that I never thought that I would have to make until it happened to me,” she said. 

The voice of the normally stoic Nessel cracked a little as she advocated for the right of women to make their own reproductive decisions. 

“Some of you may find yourself in the situation that I was in,” said Nessel. “Somebody, that I thought in never in a million years would have an abortion. …You will try and try and try for years to get pregnant and get the best news that you are pregnant, pregnant with triplets. 

“… But then one day, your doctor is going to say to you after you have been hospitalized that there is no way all of those babies are going to survive and that you are going to have to engage in a process where one of them is removed so that the other two can live. You’re going to have to make that decision: How badly do you want to have children?” 

 

‘The fascists are on the move’ 

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor), Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit as well as state Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Twp.) and Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) also attended. 

So did Shanay Watson-Whitaker, a Detroit activist who represented Proposal 3.  

“We need to normalize the conversation around reproductive care,” said Watson-Whitaker. 

Dingell said the right to an abortion is a “personal choice” for women and should not be decided by courts and lawmakers. 

“It’s about a woman, her doctor, her faith,” said Dingell. “It’s her choice.”

Rabhi blasted right-wing activists who have “attacked” the rights of women. He warned that they will continue their efforts to further strip away personal freedom. 

“The fascists are on the move,” said Rabhi. 

A call and an email to the Michigan Republican Party was not returned. 

On the issue of voting rights, Nancy Wang, executive director of Voters Not Politicians (VNP), a leading partner of Proposal 2, said the GOP-sponsored 39 “voter suppression” bills that were sponsored last year following former President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election prompted the effort. 

“Restricting the right to vote helps them,” said Wang about the GOP-controlled Legislature.

The proposal would amend the state Constitution to allow nine days of early voting, continue to allow voters to sign an affidavit attesting to their identity rather than being required to present a voter ID, require ballot drop-off boxes for every 15,000 voters, require that post-election audits only be conducted by the state and local officials, and allow voters to register for absentee ballots for all future elections.

Nearly 30 partner organizations have joined the Proposal 2 effort, including the NAACP Michigan State Conference, Emgage, Michigan League for Conservation Voters, APIA Vote Michigan and Michigan Farmers Union.

Wang pointed out that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, vetoed most of the voter restriction bills that were passed. 

“But you can bet if these legislators have the chance that they would try to do it again,” said Wang.

 

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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