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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer campaigns for Biden in Wisconsin

Whitmer joined Gov. Tony Evers at an event in Madison focused on abortion access

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, center, joins Gov. Tony Evers, left, and Tanya Atkinson, president of Planned Parenthood Wisconsin, right, at a panel focused on abortion access in Madison, Wis., on June 17, 2024. Anya van Wagtendonk/WPR

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appeared alongside Gov. Tony Evers at a panel focused on abortion access in Madison on Monday, a signal that the issue will be key to Democrats’ messaging in Midwestern battleground states.

The event was put on by the campaign of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris a week out from the two-year anniversary of the end of Roe v. Wade, which federally protected abortion access until it was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Democrats have campaigned heavily on the issue ever since — often successfully. Whitmer and Evers, two Democratic governors from swing states, argued at the event that people who care about maintaining abortion access should vote for Biden.

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“Not losing focus nationally on this important presidential election is so, so terribly important,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer said a key difference between Michigan and Wisconsin is that Michigan voters codified abortion access in their state constitution in 2022. In Wisconsin, the legality of abortion is pending in the courts.

In the immediate aftermath of the overturn of Roe v. Wade, abortion was considered outlawed in Wisconsin. After more than a year, lower court decisions have led some abortion providers to resume services.

Evers argued Trump selected anti-abortion justices for the U.S. Supreme Court and diminished reproductive health in Wisconsin.

“For over 400 days … women were, at best, second-class citizens in the state of Wisconsin,” Evers said. “Biden-Harris obviously stand with the vast majority of Wisconsinites. We must end Trump’s assault on women’s rights once and for all.”

On the campaign trail, Trump has said he thinks the matter — including whether women should be punished if they receive one — should be left up to the states. He has recently said he would not sign a federal abortion ban, which Democrats argue is a flip-flop from earlier, hardline stances.

At a May rally in Waukesha, Trump emphasized that states-first approach, arguing that anything else was politically dangerous.

“We brought it back into the states where it has to be, and over a period of time that works out,” he said. “And it’s taken a lot of the controversy out and it’s been a good thing. And you also have to remember, as a politician, you also have to get elected.”

According to recent national polling from Gallup, abortion is increasingly central to voters’ choices, with Democrats’ motivation on the subject growing.