Diversity in Politics: Empowered Women Voters and Candidates Unite

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At the annual Women Winning event to raise funds for upcoming pro-choice candidate campaigns in Minnesota, a slate of speakers talked about how the pro-choice movement can and should propel voters this fall. U.S. Representative Angie Craig said, “This is a pivotal point for women everywhere. … Together we can fight back.”

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan talked to the hundreds of mostly women in the room about the work that is ahead. “Sometimes it can feel overwhelming, or like what we are doing is not enough.”

She said her daughter, now finishing fifth grade, recently asked why she had to leave for a flight to Nevada, where Flanagan was “to meet leaders in Indian country to talk about the importance of this upcoming election and what it meant to tribal sovereignty, but also sovereignty over our own bodies and our own decisions. I said to my girl, ‘I’m getting on that plane, because I love you. And because I want you to have a future that is big and bold. Where you can do anything.’ That is why I’m getting on this flight. And we texted the whole time anyway, so it was fine.”

She said that many people in the room recognize the strain it can take to feel like you are disappointing others in your life because you’re working  “late into the night in sessions on the floor, or taking that additional meeting, or volunteering for that one more thing. But I’m here to tell you, you are fighting collectively. All of the work that every person in this room is doing is adding up to one big whole. Because this is the work that we are called to do.

“Every woman and every ally and every person in this room has your back. Every ancestor and every person who dreamed you into existence is in this room with you. So, if you feel overwhelmed and it feels like too much — this election, when a convicted felon and adjudicated rapist is running for President — the truth is is that [the collective we has] been been preparing to do the work that is in front of us right now. The good news about what is possible is that Minnesota is a North Star. With the freedom to read the books that you want, to embrace your entire identity, and to expect that the community and the school and the people around you will do the same thing. If you want to start a family, that decision is yours and yours alone.

“We need to tell that story, because what happens in Nevada, what happens in each house, each district, matters to our entire collective future. So I want you to do what you can. If that means that you knock on doors, if that means that you call people, or you have those conversations you have been meaning to have with the people in your life, if you are willing to share your story and show vulnerability — like our next speaker — that is all that is asked of us in this moment. To simply do the next good thing.

“Over the next several months, that might mean going to that extra meeting, maybe taking your kid along with you, missing out on that fun dinner with girlfriends so that you can make sure that someone in this room gets elected. It is worth it. It is absolutely worth it.

“So, when you get a little freaked out, I want you to think about this room. Think about each other. Think about the people in your life who are worth fighting for. If you don’t feel like you are enough, or what you are doing is enough … collectively we do incredible things. Watch us keep winning. Watch us deliver the future that we all deserve.”


Minnesota legislators, past and present


One of the Stories From Texas: Amanda Zurawski

Amanda Zurawski of Texas came to Minnesota to talk about her experience in Texas with the new anti-choice rules

 

In the spring of 2022, my husband Josh and I learned that I was pregnant with our first baby, a girl. We were absolutely over the moon. I had undergone grueling fertility treatment for about a year and a half. So we were thrilled to finally have a baby on the way. As difficult as it was for us to get pregnant, my first trimester was pretty smooth sailing.

But then suddenly, at 18 weeks, I suffered catastrophic complications. My cervix dilated prematurely. And because my membranes had ruptured, we were told that there was no way to safely reverse course. So we were with 100 percent certainty going to lose our baby girl. We were devastated. What I needed at that point was an abortion so that I could safely, and with dignity, deliver my daughter and begin the healing process, both physically and emotionally.

Unfortunately, this was post Roe in Texas — the near total abortion ban had gone into effect just two days after my water broke. The pregnancy would have been considered an illegal abortion. My doctor would be at risk of losing her license, hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, and even jail time. I was told to wait  until I got so sick that my life was considered in danger, which is one of the rare exceptions when a doctor can actually intervene in Texas.

It took three days, and then a near-death crash into septic shock, before my doctor could finally provide the health care that I needed. She stabilized my vitals enough to deliver our baby, who we named Willow. But then I crashed again, with another bout of sepsis, and was transferred to the ICU. I was there for three days. My family flew in from Indiana because they were told they weren’t sure whether I was going to make it through the night.

It was in that dark and lonely hospital room where I realized I was lucky because I lived. I knew that others might not be so lucky. What I went through was nothing short of barbaric, and it didn’t need to happen. But it did because of Donald Trump. Donald Trump brags about killing Roe v. Wade. It is unthinkable to me that anyone could cheer on cruel abortion bans that nearly cost me my life. But he does. And what’s more, he said there should be some form of punishment for women like me who seek an abortion. … If Trump returns to the White House, his administration could attempt to prosecute in jail doctors and patients for [even] sending or receiving medication abortion in the mail. This is what is at stake.

My husband and I are now trying to start a family through IVF. Earlier this year, we watched in terror as the Alabama Supreme Court issued its decision that instantly halted IVF services in that state. This is directly the result of Donald Trump and his policies.

Minnesotans are proudly pro choice. You proved that last year when you enshrined the right to reproductive health care into state law. It’s amazing. But no one in Minnesota would be safe or have safe access to reproductive health care if Trump finds his way back to the White House.

Minnesota will play a crucial role in this fight. Donald Trump keeps bragging about how he thinks he could win here.

The stakes of this election could not be higher for our future, and for our lives. So thank you for being here. And thank you for the work that you’re doing.


ERA MN advocate Betty Folliard and Betsy O’Berry, who is running for Anoka County Commissioner

 

 

Saint Paul City Council members HwaJeong Kim and Saura Jost, with Saint Paul school board member Erica Valliant

 

Minnesota Sens. Zaynab Mohamed, Clare Verbeten, Kelly Morrison (who is running for U.S. Senate this year), and Minnesota Rep. candidate Huldah Hiltsley

 

Action = Change

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