October 21, 2013

Another View: Mike Michaud listened and learned on reproductive rights

Being able to ask questions and change a position is a rare and important skill for a leader to have.

By Stephanie Cotsirilos

I am pro-choice, and I support Mike Michaud for governor.

about the author

Stephanie Cotsirilos is a resident of Orono and Portland.

I respectfully differ with a recent op-ed questioning Mike’s evolution on reproductive freedom (“Maine Voices: Mike Michaud’s record doesn’t prove he’s ‘evolved’ on reproductive choice,” Oct. 14).

Mike earned a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

My own experience with Mike tells me that these ratings are the result of persistent listening and digging deep to ask very hard questions of himself.

I backed someone other than Mike in the 2002 Democratic primary for the 2nd District seat in Congress.

I then learned about Mike’s strong support for family planning and, to my surprise, was invited to meet with him soon after his election to Congress.

We discussed the central holdings of Roe v. Wade and its relationship to bills before Congress at that time.

Mike listened, asked intelligent questions, kept materials to read and appeared ready to start facing challenges to some of his long-held assumptions about choice. That kind of change comes neither easily nor overnight.

As the years passed, he was available to speak when I wished to raise even uncomfortable issues, and I would often pick up my phone to hear his voice on the other end, talking through his efforts some years ago, for example, to improve access to reproductive health services for women on military bases.

Mike’s willingness to grow, his commendable stance on an array of economic issues, his life experience as millworker, self-made person and legislator and his record of deep familiarity with Maine’s needs make me believe he can win the 2014 gubernatorial race with broad support and serve as a strong, effective, compassionate executive.

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