“It’s important for women to have the right to make their own decisions about their own bodies,” Wesleyan College graduate Allison Wilcox ’80 says.
Voters in the state of Michigan may soon have a new option on their ballots - to restore women’s reproductive freedom. That’s thanks to Wilcox and many others working to promote change in their community.
On June 24 of this year, the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, a 50-year landmark decision that gave women the right to abortion. That decision is now in the hands of local lawmakers. Recent sparks in debate have set many people across the country into action, taking a stand against the restrictions put on women’s bodies.
Wilcox is among those standing to fight. Originally from Warner Robins, Georgia, she earned her chemistry degree from Wesleyan before earning her master’s degree in chemical engineering from Texas A&M. During her time at Wesleyan, Wilcox was involved in student government association and always believed firmly in the power of activism.
Ten years after finishing her education, Wilcox moved to Midland, Michigan, where she works to promote activism and change. As Wilcox's pride in her community grew, she became more involved in her community. In 2016, she joined the Women of Michigan Action Network (WOMAN), who later decided to work towards what is now known as The Reproductive Freedom for All ballot, an initiative coordinated by ACLU of Michigan, Michigan Voices, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan.
This effort aims to amend Michigan’s constitution and restore women’s rights to reproductive freedom. Once talk of Roe v. Wade spread and ultimately was overturned, Wilcox said she heard women everywhere becoming outraged. It was during this time that she pushed harder to draw attention to the cause.
Once talk of Roe v. Wade spread and ultimately was overturned, Wilcox heard women everywhere outraged. She only pushed harder to draw attention to the cause. She said "This is what you can do," and encouraged people to use their voices when and where they could, to put signs in their yards, to attend community meetings, and to sign the ballot.
According to Wilcox, the amount of signatures they received far surpassed the amount required. She says once those votes pass through the Board of State Counselors, the option for the constitutional amendment will be up for vote on the November 2022 ballot for Michigan voters.
Just days after the Roe v. Wade hearing, Wilcox organized and led a “reproductive freedom for all” rally outside of the courthouse in her hometown. The event brought local and state representatives, activists, and media from across the area. Wilcox also interviewed speakers before introducing them on stage.
A quote by folk singer Joan Baez states, “Action is the antidote to despair.” Wilcox says because WOMAN found those words to be inspiring and relevant to the work that the group was doing, they decided to make that their motto.
“We knew that things wouldn’t change if we didn’t do something about it,” she said.
In the past, Wilcox also headed events in her town, including a ‘keeping families together’ rally for children at the borders in 2018, and a rally for racial justice in 2020 that attracted over 1,000 people.
“You can love America and still know that we need to change,” Wilcox said while speaking to the media at the rally.
Wilcox is frequently quoted and pictured in local and national news outlets such as the Midland Daily News, WNEM 5, USA Today, and more.
Wilcox credits her passion for women’s rights to her education and time at Wesleyan.
“My time at Wesleyan taught me a lot about being a woman in the professional field - how to be assertive, mature, and that I am capable of doing anything. I strongly believe that Wesleyan made me who I am today.”
Wilcox also recently announced that she is running for county commissioner in her area and says she is currently unopposed in the primaries.
You can find columns written by Wilcox on her local news outlet’s columnist page. Wilcox uses this as one of her many platforms to voice her thoughts and ideas with those in her community, often writing about trending topics and debates, equal rights, and more.
You can find links to some of Wilcox’s work here:
Links to her columns: