By Marie Lowry

Five years ago, a friend from church asked if I’d go with her to stand watch at a metro Detroit abortion clinic – not to harass the people seeking care, but to help protect them. It was a life-changing experience. 

I’ve always considered myself a feminist, and am definitely pro-choice, but was never heavily involved in the issue of reproductive freedom. Then I saw the wide diversity of people coming in for an abortion and began hearing their varied stories. Doing so deepened and strengthened my determination to protect their right to access a legal abortion.  

I’ve returned week after week after week, month after month, year after year, because of the overwhelming gratification I get from helping people obtain the care they desperately need. And now, with the U.S Supreme Court Decision overturning Roe v. Wade, I’m all in on the effort to protect abortion rights in Michigan by amending the state constitution. 

We can do that by passing the ballot measure Reproductive Freedom for All (RFFA) in November. 

As a clinic escort, one of the things I’ve learned listening to those we refer to as the “antis” shout at people seeking an abortion, is how deeply rooted in misogyny the opposition to reproductive freedom is. Many of these people simply hate the idea that women aren’t being subjected to a patriarchal hierarchy that denies them the autonomy to control their own bodies. 

We cannot allow that mindset to prevail in Michigan. Which is why, along with continuing to volunteer as a clinic escort, I also volunteered to help place RFFA on the November ballot by collecting petition signatures. That effort was an overwhelming success. With the help of volunteers from across the state, we were able to turn in an unprecedented 753,759 signatures – more than 328,000 than needed to put this measure on the ballot! 

Those of us who helped collect those signatures saw firsthand the level of enthusiastic support for amending the state constitution to explicitly affirm the right of Michiganders to make decisions about abortion, birth control, miscarriage care, and childbirth without politicians interfering. 

As someone who has spent much time talking with people getting an abortion, I can tell you that the reasons for doing so are as diverse as the people coming in to have the procedure performed. I’ve met people from all walks of life and every sector of society. The one thing they have in common is deciding that an abortion is what’s best for them and their families. Meeting them all, and hearing their many different stories, has only strengthened my resolve to make sure that all Michiganders continue to be protected by a right that has been guaranteed for the past 50 years. 

We cannot go back to a time when people were forced to carry an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy to term. 

The first step toward ensuring that reproductive freedom is maintained in our state was to collect enough valid signatures to get on the ballot.  Thanks to the effort of coalition partners, volunteers, and supporters in the medical community, that has almost certainly been accomplished. 

Now, we need to take the same energy and determination used to collect signatures and focus our efforts on securing victory at the ballot box. For that to happen, the army of volunteers who helped get us to this point must now start gearing up for what will certainly be a hard-fought campaign. 

People will be needed to knock on doors, stuff envelopes and make phone calls to help educate the public about the issues and turn out the vote. We also know that protecting our rights by mounting this campaign carries a financial cost. Contributions from people like you and me will help assure we have the resources needed to win. 

So, I’m encouraging people who want to volunteer or make donations to go to, where they can get details about how they can help. 

This isn’t just a fight we can win. It is a fight we must win.