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Maureen Jordan and Bill Castinier: MSU Roe v. Wade advocates since the 70s

July 19, 2022
Photo courtesy of Maureen Jordan.
Photo courtesy of Maureen Jordan. —

Maureen Jordan, Michigan State and State News alumna, has recently been brought back to a cause that she originally fought for 50 years ago.

The St. Louis-Post Dispatch published an editorial encapsulating Jordan's story of watching her friend suffer from the effects of a dangerous illegal abortion. This story was written in order to bring awareness to the continuous problems with outlawing abortion from the 70s to the present.

The editorial explained in detail how Jordan was by her friend's side while bleeding dramatically after a botched abortion that left her still pregnant even after almost dying from the unreliable operation.

Jordan commented that Aisha Sultan, the writer of the editorial, is a brilliant writer, able to capture the story in the perfect way. Still being active in the community within the board of Planned Parenthood and being an original advocate for the cause, Jordan knew that she and her friends' stories would be perfect for Aisha's editorial.

Her time with advocacy began back when she worked for State News, watching her newspaper cover changing of the times at a 24/7 job, where she also created her best friends for life.

“We had the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, and then women’s rights were coming into the fold, and then reproductive rights," Jordan said. "In that point in time, those three … issues were forefront in our minds, so we started protesting on campus.”

Alongside protesting in the original Roe v. Wade protests, Jordan also experienced the Detroit riots in real time, working downtown at the time of the unrest.

These protests and her personal experiences have always made her a long-time Planned Parenthood supporter, yet she could not commit to a job in the company being so busy in her career. Once Jordan hit her retirement, she began to contemplate her passion more.

Jordan explained that her mind was made when ex-US Representative Todd Akin made a comment on a St. Louis Fox station speaking on the lines of women can shut down their bodies if they are being legitimately raped, trying to say that women being pregnant from rape is rare. She knew that she had to fight these comments from politicians for her retirement career.

“They were calling for protests at his office…I was just a couple of miles from there…and I went and I said ‘Oh my god, I feel so good. It’s been 50 years since I protested,'" said Jordan.

Jordan retired early in 2017 and became very involved with Planned Parenthood, volunteering, going to fundraisers, then becoming a new addition to their Legislative Committee, then the Chair of the board in 2019, interviewing politicians in the process of being endorsed by Planned Parenthood.

Her most memorable protest in recent years was when she protested Governor Parson's office when the governor worked to take away the organization's right to operate.

“It was a very secret, clandestine thing," said Jordan. "We went to where his offices are in a building downtown. We wore other clothes with our [Planned Parenthood] shirts underneath it. We executed the plan and it was well executed. We sat in front of the elevators."

She revealed then that she and three other board members were then arrested for their protest, adding a thrill for her to the experience.

“I said ‘I can finally cross getting arrested off my bucket list,’” Jordan said.

She explained that she was treated well by the cops, with even a couple of them whispering to them that they were on their side.

When putting all this work in, Jordan was devastated to hear the news from the Supreme Court on the court case she has been outwardly supporting for half a century.

“The leak started the whole thing," Jordan said. "We were 24/7 at Planned Parenthood…but that night that it dropped… I felt exactly how I felt when Trump won the election. I was nauseous. I was so upset that they had a rally the next night at the courthouse, and I couldn’t go. I was immobilized.”

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She explained that with hope and a month to mobilize their passion project, Planned Parenthood has been able to continue their fight even after the decision. She explained that this will continue to be her purpose for years to come.

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“[This issue] has entirely shaped me and my motivation to be so involved in the political process here, especially in the state,” Jordan said.

Bill Castinier was a close friend of Jordan on the advertising team with her at State News, watching Jordan and her friend deal with their hardship with the abortion.

"I was present for some of that going on because we were all really close," Castinier said. "I did not know her roommate that well, but her roommate had to have an illegal abortion…she didn’t want to tell her parents and her boyfriend split…I remember she came back from getting the abortion and it was botched terribly. She was bleeding to death and it was pretty dramatic. We finally talked her into going to the hospital regardless…that trauma certainly lives with Maureen and it lives with me.”

Still being friends with Jordan, these experiences have stuck by him.

“When you see it really personally and in your face, it never leaves," Jordan said. "That's one of the things that cemented the idea of women’s right to their own bodies.”

Castinier was also in the front seat to watch the changing of campus.

“It was a pretty Midwestern school at that time," Castinier said. "There was some activism but it wasn’t dramatic campus-wide, but small groups were active. Starting around ‘68, it got much more involved because of the Vietnam War and the draft. That was the big thing looming over everyone."

He explained the general societal atmosphere of the campus, reflecting the gender norms of the time.

“The whole university system was somewhat misogynistic and paternalistic," Castinier said. "Women had hours until 1969. They had 11 during the week and midnight on weekends…if they went home for the weekend, a postcard was mailed to their parents so they made sure she was going home to their parents…that’s how women were treated. It was very paternalistic: we know what’s best for them and we’re going to protect their virtue. It was a real hold over on MSU after the 50s.”

Castinier explained that from 1968 on there were a series of major marches at the Capitol turning the Lansing area around, and transforming the normalities of the campus.

“The whole atmosphere was exciting. A lot of it was spontaneous," Castinier said. "It was before social media. It was pretty amazing now that I think back on it and how everyone learned about demonstrations and meetings…there was a lot of spontaneity…they were uplifting. There was camaraderie among most students.”

While Castinier said this was an exciting time to work at a newspaper, the overturn of the case ruling has horrified him, hoping that Michigan can adopt a pro-choice platform on the ballot this fall.

Castinier said without his experiences at MSU starting back in 1966, he would not have had these moments of reflection, shaping his opinions and life in general.

“My time period at MSU…created some of my characteristics in life," Castinier said. "No question about it. I’m a different person because I went to MSU.”

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