Reproductive Rights: What November’s Election may mean for Alma

DANIELLE NYKANEN
STAFF WRITER

9/9/2022

The upcoming November election between Gretchen Whitmer and Tudor Dixon may clarify where the citizens of Michigan stand, as there is potential for the Michigan Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative to appear on the ballot as an initiated constitutional right.

If this initiative is placed on the ballot and passed it would legalize abortions in Michigan. In contrast, Michigan’s 1931 law would make it a felony crime to provide an abortion, unless the mother’s life is at risk.

A Michigan Court of Claims judge suspended enforcement of this law in May, temporarily. With two candidates for Governor who have strongly conflicting views, the November election may hold more weight than once thought.

Tudor Dixon, the republican nominee for Governor, has expressed that she is pro-life with exceptions for life of the mother which is in line with the 1931 law. If Tudor Dixon wins, it is more likely Michigan will have a ban on abortions.  This could mean some major changes for our colleges.

In an article by Politico, Bayliss Fiddman, the director of educational equity at the National Women’s Law Center said, “Colleges should be prepared for a larger population of students who are pregnant and parenting.”

If this is the case, there are a lot of things that Alma may need to consider. Schedule flexibility and housing are two main concerns that arise for students who are pregnant and parenting, Alma may need to prepare for this. Additionally, childcare, lactation rooms and meal plan exemptions should be discussed if necessary.

We could also see small scale changes in our ability to recruit students as many high school students have indicated states abortion laws are now a factor in college decisions. This may be more of a concern for larger schools, however, as Alma often does not see a high percent of out-of-state students.

Gretchen Whitmer, the democratic candidate for Governor, has made her pro-choice stance central to her campaign. In doing so, she has made the issue of abortion particularly salient to the election.

If Whitmer wins, it is likely abortion will be legal in the state of Michigan, which could also result in changes on Alma’s campus.

There may be more protests across the state as “anti-choice activists will be reorienting their protests to states that have stronger protections for abortion care.” said Kristin Olbertson, Associate Professor of History at Alma College. This is because “Dobbs has returned control over abortion access to the states.”

Similarly, in the upcoming months we may see a shift in the political climate on campus. Abortion rights are an issue of tremendous importance to young voters and its presence in the upcoming election may motivate students to get involved. It is “entirely plausible that we will see more political events on campus this year”, said William Gorton, Associate Professor of Political Science at Alma College.

“The salience of the abortion debate may increase the turnout for the election, especially considering ballot initiatives often increase voting”, said Professor Gorton.

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