Supporters of Planned Parenthood in the gallery of the Tennessee House of Representatives during a 2021 debate about abortion. (Photo: Ray Di Pietro)
A coalition of progressive groups and organizations that work for reproductive rights is holding a rally for abortion justice in nine Tennessee cities on Saturday, with Murfreesboro serving as a central site.
The “Bans off our Bodies” event is part of a Nationwide Day of Action for Abortion Rights which will feature more than 600 events in all 50 states and in Washington, DC. Sponsors for the Rutherford County march and rally include Women’s March Tennessee, Tennessee Equality Project, Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood and Elect Black Women.
“It’s beyond time for the United States to recognize that access to abortion care is a key part of access to human rights,” said Darlene Leong Neal, Co-Founder and State Coordinator of Women’s March Tennessee. “It is our right to shape our families, to access the healthcare we need, to decide when or whether we have children, and how we shape our lives — and for that care to be funded and not leave families and individuals scraping by.”
- Murfreesboro at Civic Plaza, Oct. 2 at noon (CDT)
- Nashville at the TN State Capitol, Oct 2 at 4 p.m. (CDT)
- Knoxville at Krutch Park, Oct 2 at 1 p.m. (EDT)
- Cookeville at 30 E. Broadstreet, Oct 2 at 10 a.m. (CDT)
- Memphis Oct 2 at 10:30 a.m. (CDT)
- Chattanooga at Miller Park, Oct 2 at 1 p.m. (EDT)
- Tri Cities at Founders Park, Oct 2 at 12:30 p.m.
- Clarksville at Wilma Rudolph, Oct 2 at 11 a.m. (CDT)
The Tennessee actions come as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to begin oral arguments on Oct. 12 over Kentucky’s appeal to defend a law banning surgical abortions. On Dec. 1, the Court will hear arguments in a Mississippi case attempting to overturn 1972’s Roe v. Wade decision that guarantees a woman’s right to have an abortion.
Tennessee’s legislature has also passed several restrictive abortion laws, including one that seeks to block the medical procedure as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a July 2020 preliminary injunction blocking the law issued by Middle Tennessee District Court William Campbell.
But the U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to intervene in a Texas law, now the strictest in the nation, that bans abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy and allows private citizens to sue anyone assisting a woman in getting an abortion.
Tennessee Right to Life and other abortion opponents worked for years to lay the groundwork in Tennessee in the event the high court overturns or pares back abortion protections established by the Roe decision.
“All abortion bans and restrictions are extreme and target people already marginalized by our health care system to deprive them of abortion access, shame their healthcare decisions, and put unnecessary hurdles in their way,” said Ruby Powell Dennis, Executive Director of Elect Black Women PAC.
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