Klobuchar in Michigan: Anti-abortion bills 'designed to put doctors in jail'

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, left, chats with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, at the state Democratic Women's Caucus' 33rd annual Legacy Luncheon on Saturday at the Marriott Renaissance Center in Detroit.

Detroit — Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar brought her presidential campaign to Detroit this week, outlining her vision for the country and sharing thoughts on abortion rights Saturday with the state's Democratic Women's Caucus. 

Klobuchar joined the Caucus' Legacy Luncheon Saturday as the keynote, speaking on infrastructure, mental health, expanding the Affordable Care Act and highlighting the importance of defending reproductive rights and women’s healthcare. Several hundred women attended the event at the Marriott Renaissance Center.

"What's happening this week, it happened in Georgia, it happened in Alabama, in Missouri and now they're trying to do things in Michigan," Klobuchar said on recently passed laws that limit abortion access. "These bills don't just take away a women's right to choose, these bills are designed to put doctors in jail."

While delivering her keynote speech, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, shows the audience her made-in-Detroit Shinola watch.

Klobuchar said during the span of the Obama Administration, abortions were at their lowest due to the funding of Planned Parenthood and making contraception available, she said. 

"People are going to be having these discussions they never thought possible," she said. "It is our job to fight it at every state legislature, in Congress and win the White House."

The Minnesota senator touted her $1 trillion spending plan that she said would correct problems in the nation’s infrastructure.

"Infrastructure is about more than just roads and bridges," Klobuchar said. "It's about transportation and fixing the moldy public schools in Detroit and the lead-filled water in Flint. ... It means making sure we increase the minimum wage and allowing our workers to unionize."

Carole Chi, left, chair of the Sterling Heights Democratic Club, greets U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, after her keynote speech at the Michigan Democratic Party Women's Caucus 33rd Annual Legacy Luncheon on Saturday.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer received a standing ovation for her promise to veto bills that ban dilation and evacuation abortions. She recognized women by her side, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson who "have her back."

"There's a lot at stake in this election. ... We know the consequences of what election means when it comes to appointment to the Supreme Court, to who sets the agenda and how we treat people, when it comes to people who say they care about life and then puts children in cages. ... This election matters to our future, to our children."

Whitmer said she's encouraged to see Klobuchar in Michigan and welcomes any Democratic presidential candidate to share their plans.

"All roads to the White House go through Michigan and so we, have a huge stake in this, and no matter what the outcome of the primary is we are going to deliver Michigan in the 2020 election," Whitmer said. 

► More: Right to Life begins petition process to sidestep Whitmer veto on abortion legislation

Women also sitting at the head table included Sen. Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, City Council President Brenda Jones and U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, who attended the event after speaking with Klobuchar on preventing domestic violence offenders from owning a gun on Saturday morning in Ann Arbor.

Klobuchar's grandfather worked in the mines, her father was a newspaperman and her mother worked as a teacher, professions she says are dear to her. She said she comes from humble beginnings and has the strength to attack voter fraud and take her to the White House.

"We need a Democrat in the White House to stop the voter oppression, to make sure we put in judges that obey the law, to pass my bill to register every kid in this country when they turn 18 years old," she said. "We had a candidate in Hillary Clinton. She had a lot of weight on her shoulders and every day we are learning something new about what happened in that election. 

"About a foreign country that didn't use tanks or missiles but a cyber attack, they invaded that election," she said. "She had the weight on her shoulders but it is not over. Look at how many women have ran for office and won because of what happened."

Michael Joyce, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, called Klobuchar's ideas "radical"

"Amy Klobuchar is bringing to Michigan her radical, cookie-cutter ideas shared by so many of her fellow 2020 wannabes, like the auto job-killing Green New Deal and support of late-term abortions," he said in a statement to The Detroit News. "Her staff aren't the only ones under attack either — Klobuchar is going after President Trump’s historic economic agenda when she really should be combing through her own record in search of any success."

Lavora Barnes, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, said the party is ready to be a focal point during the two-day second presidential primary debate on July 30 and 31 in Detroit.

"This thing that's happing in the state House, this woman who said abortion should be hard, procedures should be painful, this is evidence more than ever that actions matter," Barnes said.

"We have to remember how upset we are about Trump, about what's happening in the Legislature, about the fact they won't even pay attention to the governor's terrific budget that would fix the damn roads," she said. "We have to be energized and organized all over again, times two."

During the invocation by Lupe Ramos-Montigny, Kimberly Morgan, left, of West Bloomfield Township, and Theresa Clanton, Farmington Hills, joined hands and bowed their heads.

Kimberly Morgan of West Bloomfield Township attended the luncheon and said seeing Whitmer there was a "mic-drop moment."

"To be a part of a generation who has witnessed this woman be placed in her position of power and knowing we helped her get there is empowering," said Morgan, 52. "I joined the women's caucus five years ago and I've seen this movement grow beyond expectations."

Morgan said they cherished hearing from fellow women and leaning on one another for support in the 2020 election. 

"This is a me too moment realized," Morgan said. "You don't have to be a sexual assault victim to understand me too or have an abortion to know it's not wrong. You don't have to go to the low lows to be with women's issues. Being a women puts us in alignment with me too."

Twitter: @SarahRahal_