Tennessee’s elected women, candidates speak on Roe reversal

By: - June 24, 2022 6:13 pm
Charlane Oliver, at right in white t-shirt, speaks on Friday as other women elected officials and candidates stand behind her. Oliver is running to replace Sen. Brenda Gilmore in Nashville's District 19. (Photo: Dulce Torres Guzman)

Charlane Oliver, at right in white t-shirt, speaks on Friday as other women elected officials and candidates stand behind her. Oliver is running to replace Sen. Brenda Gilmore in Nashville’s District 19. (Photo: Dulce Torres Guzman)

Following Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, many of Tennessee’s women in elected office and female candidates urged Tennesseans to back candidates who support women’s right to legal abortions.

Metro Nashville Councilmember Delishia Porterfield, who is also running for the Democratic nomination in Tennessee House District 52, said she will introduce legislation at Tuesday’s council meeting asking the Metro Nashville Police Department not to enforce the abortion ban and to monitor harassment at abortion clinics.

At a Nashville press conference, Charlane Oliver, a Democratic candidate for State Senate District 19, said, “Let’s be very clear: Republicans are to blame for what happened today. Roe v. Wade was overturned because Republicans put power over people, put politics over people, and we’re running because we care about the people.”

Joining Porterfield and Oliver were Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville, Metro Nashville Council member Sandra Sepulveda,  District 7 congressional candidate Odessa Kelly, House District 25 candidate Ann Ferrell Quillen and Kelly Northcutt, a candidate for State Senate District 13 in Murfreesboro and Courtenay Rogers, a candidate for Williamson County Commission. All are Democrats. 

Anne Ferrell Quillen, Democratic candidate for State House, addresses the group. (Photo: John Partipilo)
Anne Ferrell Quillen, Democratic candidate for State House, addresses the group. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Each spoke about the struggles they face as women campaigning as openly pro-choice candidates in Tennessee, a state with an abortion trigger law set to take effect within the next month. The law will  levy criminal penalties on abortion providers.

“It is up to you, to everyone who can hear me, to everyone who can see me, right now it is up to you. You decide what kind of state we’re going to be, what type of country we’re going to be, ‘cause these Republicans are fast pushing us back to a facist country, and I won’t stand for that,” said Kelly.  “Do you realize that Roe v. Wade (decision) just said to every woman in this country (they) just became a second-class citizen?”

Quillen, who is running to unseat Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton, said she is not nervous about taking Sexton on.

“This is the second time I’ve run against Cameron Sexton,” said Quillen. The first time I was nervous, but this time I’m not. I’m speaking out. It is hard to speak out in rural Tennessee about abortion and women’s right to choose. We have avoided that issue because it’s such a divisive issue but I’m not holding back anymore.”

“What we need are legislators who vote in favor of retaining rights. We don’t need people who support Clarence Thomas’s decision that this is going to be the first domino that will strip us of our rights to control our own bodies, and next he will strip us of our rights to contraceptives,” said Northcutt.



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Dulce Torres Guzman
Dulce Torres Guzman

Dulce has written for the Nashville Scene and Crucero News. A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, she received the John Seigenthaler Award for Outstanding Graduate in Print Journalism in 2016. Torres Guzman is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She enjoys the outdoors and is passionate about preserving the environment and environmental issues.

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