Member Voices: Taking the Politics out of Reproductive Health Care

Unions have a proud history of fighting for the rights of all working people. The right to access legal and affordable reproductive health care is a basic human right. I am proud that my union is fighting to keep politicians out of women’s health care decisions.

I am proud that my union has made the decision to stand up and join in the fight for choice so my daughters have the right to choose if, when, and how they will start a family. I am proud to be fighting for their rights - just like those before me fought for my rights.

I am reminded of the women I know who were faced with the difficult decision to end a pregnancy. Those women didn’t make their choice easily – they just didn’t have options. They were doing the best they could with the hand they’d been dealt. I can't imagine how much harder that decision would have been if they’d lived in a state with even harsher and more unnecessary restrictions on abortion access than the ones we have here in Minnesota.

With those women’s stories on my mind and in my heart, I know we at AFSCME Council 5 are standing with women by joining the UnRestrict Minnesota campaign. No woman should have to jump through hoops – or even fear prosecution – when making a life-changing medical decision.

The ability to choose when and if a person starts a family is a cornerstone of a person’s ability to forge their own destiny. Without the ability to choose the size of my own family, I would not have been afforded the freedom to work outside of my home in order to care for myself and my children. We need to make sure that the next generation has the rights I have enjoyed, and that we do all we can to protect a person’s ability to receive legal and affordable reproductive health care.

I recognize that abortion access is tough to talk about – I admit that when we first sat down as the chair officers of AFSCME Council 5 and decided to partner with UnRestrict, I admit that I was hesitant to sign on. While I stand firm in my own support of women’s right to choose, I wasn’t sure if our union would be ready to devote time and energy to this critical fight.

Earlier this year, our union held a three-day strategic planning retreat. When it became clear that the union leaders gathered there were passionate, committed and ready to move AFSCME forward in our work to fight for economic, racial and gender justice for all Minnesotans, my heart swelled with pride.

A few months later, when our board of directors – made up of more than 40 AFSCME members from all across the state – voted overwhelmingly to join the UnRestrict campaign, my anxieties dissipated. When it came to standing with workers on this impactful and challenging issue, my union didn’t hesitate.

AFSCME members are ready to take the politics out of reproductive health care. We’re ready to get to work and help make Minnesota a leader in abortion access.

AFSCME Council 5 is proud of the work we do to represent our members – but unions are about so much more than negotiating contracts and filing grievances. Our union’s mission is to fight for dignity, opportunity, and shared prosperity for everyone. We know that what we do away from the negotiating table is more important than what we do AT the table. To me, that means strengthening the labor movement and harnessing our power as a collective to fight for progress on a larger scale.

In the spirit of our labor heroes before us, AFSCME Council 5 is here to fight for justice – for everyone.