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National group focuses on flipping Michigan state legislature

Woman getting ultrasound
Alexander Raths
Adobe Stock

EMILY’s List is planning to spend $20 million in Michigan and other states with the goal of flipping or retaining state legislatures.

The D.C.-based national group is primarily focused on electing Democratic women who support legal access to abortion. EMILY’s List calls this level of spending “unprecedented,” and cites the Supreme Court’s recent decision to not block partisan gerrymandering as a factor.

Ianthe Metzger is the deputy director of campaign communications for EMILY’s List. She says Michigan is an important state for EMILY’s List not just because of its Republican-led House and Senate, but also because of recent petition drives to ban an abotion practice known as evacuation-and-dilation. 

“This effort was something we had in the works before that petition drive got started, but it’s just really adding more fuel to the fire, and really demonstrates… why we need to have pro-choice legislatures in both chambers.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, endorsed by EMILY’s List during the 2018 gubernatorial election, has said she will veto any initiative restricting access to abortion that crosses her desk.

Abortion rights opponents groups in Michigan have recently started circulating petitions to ban dilation and evacuation. If groups collect enough signatures, the initiatives could bypass Gov. Whitmer completely and be enacted by the state legislature. 

Metzger says Gov. Whitmer’s commitment to vetoing legislation that would restrict access to abortion “has been great,” but proponents of access to legal abortion need to do more.

“We really need to focus on electing pro-choice, Democratic women to both those chambers who will vote for policies that will support women and families and empower them to have access to all these important things like healthcare and reproductive freedom.”

She adds that generally, Michigan voters do not support restrictions to abortion access. 

“It really says something that the folks who are leading this effort are trying to circumvent the governor and the voters, because they know voters do not support these types of extreme measures, and they know that if they took it to the voters, they would reject it outright.”

Metzger says that EMILY’s List does not yet have any specific candidates in Michigan that it will endorse in 2020 or a specific outline of where every dollar of the $20 million will go, but will make these endorsements public as the election draws closer.

Caroline is a third year history major at the University of Michigan. She also works at The Michigan Daily, where she has been a copy editor and an opinion columnist. When she’s not at work, you can find her down at Argo Pond as a coxswain for the Michigan men’s rowing team. Caroline loves swimming, going for walks, being outdoors, cooking, trivia, and spending time with her two-year-old cat, Pepper.
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