Opinion

Why I work for Proposal 3: Respect for women

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(Aaron Martinez is a law clerk and lives in East Lansing. Because of wrong information provided to City Pulse, an earlier version of this  opinion piece said he is an attorney.)

Proposal 3 would guarantee Michigan residents the right to make their own reproductive decisions. More than 750,000 Michiganders signed the petition over the summer to put the proposal on the November ballot. I worked with a team to help gather thousands of those signatures from citizens. 

So why am I invested in abortion access and reproductive health care? Because I want my wife and our future children to always have the right to basic health care — and abortion care is health care. 

Generations of strong women have taught me that our communities are stronger when every person is given the respect, freedom and dignity to realize their own destiny. Working to pass Proposal 3 is how I honor those women in my life and in my community. Like millions of my fellow Michiganders, I recognize that women, along with their doctors, should be the ones making decisions about their bodies and health. 

The ballot measure would stop a 91-year-old Michigan law that could send women to prison for seeking reproductive health care and doctors for providing it. Let’s look back to Sept. 18, 1931, when this law was codified, to see how far Michigan residents have come in their ability to make their own personal medical decisions. 

From then until 1973 — when Roe v. Wade was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court — it was a felony offense in Michigan for a woman and her doctor to make these personal, and sometimes life-or-death, health care decisions about a pregnancy. Even if that pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.  

In those times, when women’s rights were restricted in many ways, doctors often disagreed about what constituted a “true threat” to the life of a mother. Or they simply imposed their personal beliefs about women and childbirth onto their patients. In those days, many women were left to suffer or die without any recourse. Today’s women should not be subjected to the fear and uncertainty of century-old medical practices. 

In the eyes of that old Michigan law, women were an afterthought in the decisions that affected them most personally. Thankfully, since 1973, women have claimed agency over their lives and their bodies. 

If Proposal 3 fails, we are likely to go back to that 1931 law. No one — least of all politicians — should get in the way of any Michigander receiving the medical care they need and deserve. Putting this measure in place will protect a woman’s right to pregnancy-related care, from birth control to prenatal care, from miscarriage treatment to abortion access.  

The measure recognizes that Michigan residents want to restore the standards of Roe v. Wade based on medical science and standards of medical care rather than the opinions of politicians. In fact, Proposal 3 has been endorsed by more than 1,500 health care professionals and recognizes that women should be making private, personal health care decisions with their doctors. 

Michigan citizens showed their willingness to fight for these rights when residents from every single county signed the petition in support of putting Proposal 3 on the ballot. Now, we must continue fighting until we get this measure passed and these rights are restored.  

There will likely never be a more important ballot initiative in my lifetime. While this is first and foremost about those who can carry children, it involves men, too. I want those who come after us to know that when faced with the prospect of going back to an era that was dangerous for women and could impact all of us, men like me leaped fully into a future that recognizes their autonomy and prioritizes their health without reservation. 

On Nov. 8, join me in supporting Proposal 3 and writing the final chapter on the 1931 law that currently deprives Michigan women of their reproductive rights. Let’s turn the page on the past and keep important medical decisions like these between women and their doctors.  

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