In Michigan, Justice Brian Zahra is up for re-election to the state's Supreme Court. With anti-abortion organizations spending thousands on his campaign, Zahra's ex-wife has come forward with a shocking revelation.
Alyssa Jones, known at the time under her maiden name, Alyssa Watson, shared with NBC News that on May 18, 1983, Zahra paid for her to have an abortion. Jones was 20 at the time, and a sophomore in college. Zahra was 23, and just a year away from applying to law school.
Jones revealed that when the two found out she was pregnant, they both agreed on terminating. Zahra drove her to the clinic and paid for the procedure, then berated her when she cried afterwards.
“I never disagreed with it, I didn’t feel like he was strong-arming me,” Jones recalled. “I do remember talking during the procedure, saying, ‘You know, we just need to finish school, we’re not ready to have a family, we need to finish school.’”
Jones and Zahra married in 1987, before they divorced in 1993. Jones said she has only seen Zahra a handful of times since, in public settings. Still, when a reporter reached out to Zahra for comment after Jones' first interview, Jones revealed that he called her for the first time since 1995.
“Alyssa, this is Brian,” Zahra said in the voicemail shared by Jones. “I was contacted by a Washington reporter today who asked me some questions about you on a voicemail. I haven’t called back. I’d like to talk to you.”
Jones did not return the call. Instead, she sat down for a second interview, where close friends and family were able to confirm that the abortion took place. Statements from Jones' current healthcare providers also validated her claims.
This year, 39 years after Jones received an abortion, Zahra voted to block a ballot initiative (Proposal 3) that will allow Michigan residents to determine the future of abortion in the state. His dissenting opinion argued that insufficient spacing in the proposal's formatting renders it incompatible with Michigan law.
“As a wordsmith and a member of Michigan’s court of last resort, a court that routinely scrutinizes in great detail the words used in statutes and constitutional provisions, I find it an unremarkable proposition that spaces between words matter,” he wrote. “Words separated by spaces cease being words or become new words when the spaces between them are removed.”
Zahra is not the first anti-choice proponent who has benefitted from access to the procedure. Earlier this year, Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker, an advocate for a nationwide abortion ban with no exceptions, was revealed to have paid for his ex-girlfriend to terminate her pregnancy.
Though he says it was without his input, Zahra has been endorsed by pro-life, conservative organization Right to Life of Michigan. Their website shares that in order to receive support, “a candidate must be pro-life with no exceptions other than the life of the mother.” The group has since spent $10,000 on Zahra's re-election campaign.
Ahead of next week's midterms, Jones said that what motivated her to come forward was the hypocrisy she's recently seen from Zahra, who would have been unable to build a career in law if she had been forced to carry the pregnancy to term.
She said: “I’m grateful I had a choice, and I think he’s grateful he had a choice."