Reproductive Rights in Tennessee: A Hot Topics Discussion

By Chandra Allen

In November, Tennesseans will vote on four constitutional amendments and Amendment 1 is the amendment that will have a direct impact on women’s access to reproductive health choices in Tennessee. The language in Amendment 1 can be tricky to understand – which rights will be protected and which will be taken away? If you want to be informed before you vote, join us Thursday, Oct. 16 as we explore this complex issue with representatives from community organizations that are on the front-lines.  Our panel will include:  Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director of the ACLU in Tennessee; Francie Hunt, Senior Field Manager for Planned Parenthood Middle Tennessee; Lyndsey Godwin, Assistant Director of the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality at Vanderbilt University; and Rev. V.H. Sonnye Dixon Jr., Pastor at Hobson United Methodist Church in Nashville.   I am looking forward to hearing from each of the panelists about the work they are doing in the area of Reproductive Rights.  I hope you will come to Hot Topics to learn more and join the discussion.

I was eager to work on putting together this panel for our monthly Hot Topic program series, because Amendment 1 is a critical piece of legislation that will have a dramatic impact on reproductive rights for women in Tennessee.  I believe that every woman should have the right to make the decision that she thinks is best for her body and her life and that is why I will be voting NO on Amendment 1 in November.   Stricter regulations on abortion and reproductive health will only cause more harm to women in Tennessee. Amendment 1 would not necessarily consider instances of rape, incest, or illness, thus forcing many women to make decisions contrary to what they think is best.    Politicians should not have the right to regulate what a woman can and cannot do with her body.  Decisions about reproductive health are multifaceted and deeply personal.  Every woman deserves the opportunity to make the decision that is best for her and only those she wants to be part of the conversation should have an input.  Politicians should not be one of the parties weighing in on the decisions that women need to make for their bodies, their health, and their families.  As noted in a powerful op ed by Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings (pastor of New Covenant Christian Church in Nashville, Tennessee) in the Tennessean recently, Amendment 1 will only serve to disempower women in Tennessee, especially women of color and women whose income is at or below the poverty line.  Our state lawmakers cannot presume to make decisions for women who they know nothing about and this is why Amendment 1 will be devastating for women in Tennessee.   I want the power to make the decision that is best for me and my family and I want every women in Tennessee to have that right as well.

Come to Hot Topics at Scarritt-Bennett Center on October 16 from 11:30am-1:00pm to learn more about Amendment 1 and Reproductive Rights in Tennessee so you can go to the polls informed on November 4th.  Please bring a sack lunch. Water and tea will be provided. Program Cost is $6.  To register, click here.

Chandra Allen is a native Nashvillian.  She earned a Bachelor’s degree in German from Davidson College in North Carolina and a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School.  She is currently an Assistant Director of Education, Programs, and Connections at Scarritt-Bennett Center where she plans programs focused on women’s leadership and women’s empowerment.  Chandra is passionate about creating an authentic environment where women and men gather to explore and awaken the strength of their voices, experiences, and creativity to effect positive change in their communities and for themselves.