You know those fake-heartwarming news stories? The ones with headlines like, “7-Year-Old Sells Lemonade to Pay For Dad’s Insulin”—the stories that are meant to be seen as inspiring accounts of hard work and triumph over adversity, but are actually deeply disturbing indicators of entrenched societal failure?
Here’s another for the pile: Minnesota state Senate candidate Erin Maye Quade, a Democrat, delivered her convention speech while in active labor on Saturday. The fact that she was able to brave contractions while campaigning and giving a public address is remarkable—but this should never have happened in the first place.
Maye Quade was vying for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party nomination when she went into labor Friday night, just hours before the party’s convention. According to HuffPost, her campaign manager requested that the endorsement for Maye Quade’s race be announced earlier in the day—since, you know, the candidate had an urgent appointment at the hospital looming—but the request was received so much “pushback” that the team was dissuaded from attempting to reschedule the convention at all.
So Maye Quade reportedly spent the day ducking into a private room every 15 to 20 minutes to have contractions, before heading out to campaign, as one does in a normal functioning society. In a video posted to social media, she can be seen bracing herself on the podium as she apparently experiences a contraction mid-speech.
Despite making it past the first round of voting, Maye Quade eventually had to go to the hospital. Unable to campaign further, she withdrew her candidacy, allowing her opponent Justin Emmerich to run unopposed and win the nomination.
One of her campaign surrogates told a local Fox affiliate that Maye Quade personally asked Emmerich to suspend the convention and that Emmerich—a MAN, in case that wasn’t clear—refused. A vote of two-thirds of the delegates would have been needed to sign off on a motion to suspend the convention, and Maye Quade’s team reportedly didn’t believe that they would have been able to garner the necessary votes without his support. (Emmerich told HuffPost that he “readily agreed” to his opponent’s accommodation requests.)
“After having time to think about it, the thing that was most jarring to me was the expectation, at least that we felt, from the day and the process for her to push through this when a lot of other serious medical concerns would not be met with that same expectation,” Maye Quade’s campaign manager Mitchelle Walstad told Fox 9.
Maye Quade is a local history maker: She’s the third Black woman ever elected to the Minnesota state House, and her unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor in 2018 made her the state’s first major-party backed LGBTQ candidate. Her baby was born early Sunday morning, and both Maye Quade and her daughter are reportedly in good health.
It’s ridiculous, however, that she was ever forced to be able to choose between her health/the health of her baby and the political career she has every right to pursue. It’s also pretty hard to imagine a political convention just trucking along as a straight white guy had a stroke, heart attack, or other life-threatening medical emergency at the podium.
The Civil, Human, and Constitutional Rights portion of the Minnesota DFL platform says that the party opposes both “government interference in all matters related to the control of one’s own body, including protections of the rights of women to bear children, practice birth control and obtain safe and legal abortions,” and “barriers to participation in society.” The choice that Maye Quade was seemingly forced to make is one hell of a big barrier.