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Coalition Forms to Defeat 2014 TN Abortion Amendment

GRAPHIC: A new coalition has been formed to help fight a 2014 ballot initiative that seeks to put further restrictions on abortion in Tennessee. Graphic credit: Healthy & Free TN
GRAPHIC: A new coalition has been formed to help fight a 2014 ballot initiative that seeks to put further restrictions on abortion in Tennessee. Graphic credit: Healthy & Free TN
March 11, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Advocates from across the state will converge at the Capitol in Nashville this afternoon for the official launch of Healthy and Free Tennessee. The new coalition is made up of individuals, agencies and organizations working to promote sexual health and reproductive freedom, according to Kari Adams, vice president for community affairs, Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee.

"We are just trying to organize so we can let legislators know that we are not going to put up with it any more in Tennessee," she said. "Women, men and families are fed up with legislators coming into our bedrooms, coming into our homes, and telling us what we can and can't do."

One of the greatest challenges on the radar is the initiative that will appear on the Tennessee ballot next year. Adams said the proposed amendment seeks to weaken a woman's Constitutional right to abortion. It would also enact a number of new restrictions.

The proposed amendment is among the reasons that Healthy and Free Tennessee was formed, but women's reproductive rights have been under attack for years by conservative members of the legislature, Adams noted.

"They are doing everything they can to restrict access to sex education, access to birth control and access to reproductive health care," she said, "and the people of Tennessee are not going to stand for it."

Another battle being fought in Tennessee and across the nation is whether birth control and other women's reproductive health care should be covered under insurance policies, as is directed in the Affordable Care Act. Registered nurse and doula-in-training Erin Fagot said what opponents forget in the debate is the long-term cost - financial and social - for unplanned pregnancies, which account for half of all babies born in the country.

"It doesn't necessarily mean that the child isn't wanted or loved once they're here," Fagot said, "but if you didn't plan to be pregnant in the first place, it is very costly. And if you can't afford it, somebody else is going to be paying for it."

Studies have shown that increasing access to affordable birth control lowers the rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion.

More information is available at http://on.fb.me/WfoSTu.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN