Folks, we’re well past the point at which writing to U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty is a worthwhile endeavor. Our state legislators have carved up the Democratic stronghold of the 5th Congressional District, so our representation in the U.S. House is a big unknown. It’s time to get on the ground and find the grassroots organizations that have been preparing for this fight. Donating money to national organizations is nice, but if you want to see progress in your own community and in the South, here are some options.
Healthy and Free Tennessee is a nonprofit made up of agencies, organizations and individuals promoting reproductive justice in our state. They’ve been active in the state legislature, working with lawmakers to view law through a reproductive lens. HFTN was behind the bill that bans the shackling of pregnant women in Tennessee jails, which passed in March. In May, HFTN steering-committee member Briana Perry told the Scene that the organization will also start to provide training around self-managed abortion and respond to a potential uptick in criminalization of abortion, potentially providing legal and bail funds.
Even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, state laws will still matter as we navigate the criminalization of abortion. We need advocates at the state Capitol, and you can help. HFTN is looking for volunteers to guide the strategy for the coalition’s priorities. With the 2022 legislative session wrapped and state lawmakers at ease for the rest of the year, this is the perfect time to get involved and prepare to fight the criminalization of abortion during the next session. HFTN also arranges meetings with representatives and constituents, so you can help inform our state leaders why reproductive choice matters to Southerners. The organization also lists opportunities for story sharing, tabling at events, hosting gatherings and more — and they’re always looking for monetary donations to stay afloat. Check out healthyandfreetn.org/volunteer to get involved.
Abortion Care Tennessee, which typically funds abortions by giving money to clinics, is looking to pivot their model to helping with travel costs for out-of-state abortions. Follow their work at abortioncaretn.org to stay up to date on this process.
Planned Parenthood does not only provide abortions — the clinics across the U.S. provide mammograms, STI testing and treatment, hormone therapy, prenatal care and a host of other services. Planned Parenthood is an indispensable institution that will still need funding in a potential post-Roe era. Ashley Coffield, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, said at a May press conference that the organization is starting a patient navigator program to help people plan and pay for out-of-state abortions. You can get involved by joining the Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood and taking part in its Rapid Response Team next legislative session. By showing up on Capitol Hill, you not only tell your representatives what matters to you but also buoy the folks who have dedicated their lives to this cause.
It’s easy to despair — to feel like we’re at the mercy of nine federal overlords who make decisions that impact every American from the cradle to the grave. It’s hard to take action. But there are smart, strategic folks who are determined to stay active and hold up lanterns in the smog. Do the hard thing. This fight ain’t over.