Whitmer on MSNBC: Female officials tell ‘our sad, toughest’ stories to show impact of anti-abortion laws

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at the Planned Parenthood Summit | Susan J. Demas

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said on MSNBC on Monday that the recent wave of abortion bans across the country is about “trying to control women.”

“I think so many of these decisions are made in a vacuum with a bunch of men sitting around a table and deciding what a woman’s rights should be, what our access to health care should be — trying to control women by controlling our bodies,” Whitmer said.

MSNBC played a clip of state Sen. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who talked about being raped. Whitmer spoke about sharing on the state Senate floor in 2013 her experience being raped as part a different abortion debate on the so-called “rape insurance” law.

She said that unfortunately, it often falls to female legislators who have to “go to the microphone and tell our most personal, sad, toughest stories because we want to put a face on this.

Pro-choice rally | Zhu photo, Flickr

“This is not just an issue in a vacuum — this is about families and women and our rights and our autonomy. That’s why it’s so important that women are standing up and our … male allies, too. This is about control and autonomy and freedom.”

“It’s critical that people understand the real-world impacts of cruel, poorly informed laws,” she added.

At the beginning of the interview, Whitmer told MSNBC host Hallie Jackson, “Thank you for highlighting this issue. It’s really important.”

She noted that her “veto pen is ready” for the bills banning the dilation and evacuation abortion procedure the GOP-led Michigan Legislature passed last week.

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

“They moved last week before Right to Life was in town and it’s one special interest group that’s pushing this. And it’s a distraction from all the other really important things we need to be tackling,” Whitmer said.

“This is a safe medical procedure that has saved women’s lives — that has protected their reproductive ability in the future — that is now under attack here in Michigan,” she said. “The good news is we have three pro-choice Democratic women at the top of state office here in Michigan right now and we are all absolutely committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose.

A coalition of women’s groups is holding a rally in Ann Arbor on Tuesday as part of a national day of action called “Stop the Bans.”

Donald Trump | Wikimedia Commons

Jackson ended by asking Whitmer about the politics of the abortion issue, noting that now-President Donald Trump won Michigan in 2016. She asked if this could help the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020. Whitmer said she thought it could, but turned to her stump speech.

“Well, you know, people in Michigan want the roads fixed,” she said. “They want opportunities to get the skills to get into a higher-paying jobs and to clean up drinking water and protect the Great Lakes. These are the fundamentals that people are focused on here.”

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Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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