In 2019, we launched UnRestrict Minnesota as the first-ever, cross-sector, community-supported campaign in our state that aims to raise awareness about the state’s anti-abortion laws and provide Minnesotans with the information to make healthy decisions about their own lives and bodies. The success of the campaign is driven by an ever-growing coalition of organizations, community partners, advocates, health care providers, lawyers, and concerned citizens who support every Minnesotan’s fundamental right to abortion care in our state.
As we face the challenges of 2020 and beyond, and with the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, we know we will have to fight even harder to protect our reproductive rights and freedoms. Luckily, UnRestrict Minnesota has a powerhouse group of visionary leaders guiding the campaign forward. This team of proven advocates are on a quest to revitalize, diversify, and expand the movement to create reproductive justice and freedom in Minnesota — starting with repealing our out-dated and unnecessary abortion restrictions.
Get to know the leaders who are changing the reproductive rights and justice movement in Minnesota.
Campaign Director, UnRestrict Minnesota
Abena Abraham comes to UnRestrict Minnesota with years of experience in advocacy, campaigning and the coordination of people around a unified movement. Her move to the US at a young age impacted how she views the importance of community building and has greatly influenced her passion and leadership. Abena has served in a range of organizing positions throughout her career, from presidential campaigns to organizing with Saint Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE). She also co-founded the Black Immigrant Collective, a collective that works at the intersection of Blackness and Immigration. As Campaign Director, Abena brings expertise in advocacy and interpersonal relationship building that will drive the work of UnRestrict Minnesota forward.
“With access to abortion more limited than ever, now is our moment to reenvision reproductive justice for our community. I am so proud to be part of this inclusive campaign that empowers all of us to be able to make critical decisions about our health, families, and future.”
Erin Maye Quade
Campaign Manager, UnRestrict Minnesota
A former Minnesota State Representative, Erin Maye Quade is the third Black woman ever elected to the state legislature and the first to be elected from outside of Minneapolis or St. Paul. As a legislator, she quickly established herself as a candid and fierce advocate for Minnesotans by championing paid family medical leave; addressing racial disparities and advancing racial equity; expanding access to affordable child care; working to eliminate gun violence; investing in treatment for mental health; and fighting to pass comprehensive sex and consent education. Erin was a founding member of The People of Color and Indigenous Legislator’s (POCI) Caucus. In June 2018, Erin Maye Quade became the DFL endorsed candidate for Lt. Governor and the first LGBTQ person – and among the youngest – to be endorsed by a major party for statewide office.
“I’m excited to be a leader in a movement that is seeking to change the lives of Minnesotans and ensure they have unrestricted access to the full spectrum of pregnancy care. So often, reproductive freedom campaigns are centered around just one organization, use vague language, or exclude the voices and experiences of people of color. I’m proud to be part of UnRestrict Minnesota as a community-centered, and community-driven campaign that prioritizes the leadership of Black women. We are a first-of-its-kind coalition that centers the voices of those most impacted by the restrictions; the only coalition in Minnesota educating Minnesotans about the laws AND the only coalition actively working to remove the restrictions.”
Executive Director, Pro-Choice Minnesota
With over a decade of experience working with pro-choice and reproductive rights groups, Pro-Choice Minnesota’s Executive Director, Maggie Meyer, believes we must organize and build power together to expand and protect our reproductive rights. She has worked to defeat the marriage amendment as a volunteer and Conversation Coach with the Minnesotans United for All Families campaign and has dedicated her professional career to equity and women’s issues as a powerful fundraiser and executive leader.
“I envision a Minnesota where all people have bodily autonomy and can make decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities. I’m excited to work alongside so many organizations to overturn the restrictions on abortion in Minnesota and cannot imagine a group of people I would trust more to take on this difficult and important work. This campaign is significant because it puts our state’s anti-abortion laws at the center of the conversation. It doesn’t shy away from the topic of reproductive rights or rely on euphemisms to gain a following. It’s refreshingly straight forward about the constitutional rights of Minnesotans to access abortion care – trusting members and followers to know that using the “A” word will bring us together, not drive us apart.”
Megan J. Peterson
Executive Director, Gender Justice
Megan’s journey as a leader in the reproductive rights, health, and justice movement began nearly 20 years ago when she worked as a patient advocate at Planned Parenthood in St. Paul. There, she counseled patients about their decision to have an abortion and held the hands of hundreds of women as they underwent their abortion procedure. She also saw how patients who didn’t have health insurance or struggled to pay their bills faced nearly insurmountable barriers to getting the health care they needed. That early experience set the path of her career — a path which led her to lead fundraising and communications for Minnesota’s largest abortion fund Pro-Choice Resources (now Our Justice), and ultimately to serving as Deputy Director with the National Network of Abortion Funds. For nearly 10 years, Megan helped build the leadership, capacity, and advocacy power of grassroots abortion funds while funding abortion across the country. In that role, she helped envision and launch the All Above All campaign to repeal the federal Hyde Amendment which bans Medicaid coverage for abortion. She joined Gender Justice as Executive Director in 2016 with a vision to reinvigorate the state’s reproductive rights movement for proactive action in the context of the organization’s broader mission to advance gender equity through the law.
“The time is now to bring our laws back in line with our state’s values and set the record straight about what we expect from our state government — ensure that our laws protect reproductive care access, not limit it. The significance of UnRestrict Minnesota is that it is bold, it is big, and it unabashedly proclaims our vision for our future. We’re changing who has a seat at the table in deciding what should be on the agenda for the reproductive rights, health, and justice movements. In doing so, the campaign serves as a resource for our social justice partners to connect bodily autonomy to our shared values of economic, racial, and gender justice more broadly. Removing the state’s restrictions on abortion is an important first step in creating a state where everyone has the resources, protections, and community support to live full, self-directed lives.”
Executive Director, Our Justice
Shayla Walker serves as the Vision Realization Advisor of Our Justice, a Twin Cities-based reproductive justice organization that seeks to ensure that all people and communities have the power and resources to make sexual and reproductive health decisions with self-determination. In her role at Our Justice, she works towards a vision for the future of Minnesota where people have the adequate resources and support they need so that decisions of whether to parent or not parent, are not made out of scarcity, but out of genuine desire. As a member of the UnRestrict Minnesota leadership team, Shayla brings a depth of experience and knowledge as a highly experienced professional, educator, and community outreach leader in reproductive health services.
“I think it’s very important that there is a coalition like UnRestrict Minnesota here, and specifically in the Midwest, that addresses abortion access. I think a lot of people assume that Minnesota is an oasis when it comes to access, when the reality is that we have fourteen anti-abortion active laws. This doesn’t line up with our state constitution and this campaign brings awareness to people that believe that we are safe when in reality abortion care is at risk in Minnesota. The significance of this campaign is to show Minnesotans how the majority of us can stand collectively when it comes to protecting people’s right to make decisions about their own bodies with autonomy and free from government interference. I’m proud to be part of crafting the direction of the campaign and to bring the lived-experiences and voices of Our Justice’s grantees to the center of this new movement.”
UnRestrict Minnesota marks a turning point in the reproductive freedom movement history as the largest coalition ever working together to advance abortion access in the state. The coalition includes groups who haven’t historically been involved in working on abortion rights and it is this intersectional, cross-sector approach to movement building that makes this campaign the new progressive model for success.
Click here to learn more about all of our community partners and join us as we work to UnRestrict Minnesota!