Friday morning the Supreme Court released their decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, effectively overturning Roe v. Wade and allowing state governments to criminalize abortion.
In response, Healthy and free Tennessee released the following statement:
We are enraged but unsurprised at the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. This decision will not only force Tennessee clinics to stop providing necessary care, but also push Tennesseans seeking abortion care to travel out of state to receive the care they need. Abortion bans are state-sanctioned violence. With the Supreme Court on their side, anti-abortion politicians will continue to push forward anti-abortion legislation that not only criminalizes providers, but also punishes pregnant people for their pregnancy outcomes. Criminalizing abortion care means more government surveillance, investigation, and control — and we know Black and brown people, disabled people, those who use substances are always more likely to be targeted. No one should be punished or criminalized for their abortion, miscarriage, or any pregnancy outcome.
At Healthy and Free Tennessee, we have been preparing for this reality and will continue to center abolition in the fight for reproductive justice for all Tennesseans. We are not giving up on our communities and will not stop fighting for the decriminalization of abortion, pregnancy, and parenting. Now more than ever, we are backing our clinics, we are fighting against criminalization, and are here for our communities. Tennesseeans deserve freedom from state violence and criminalization. We will always oppose laws that punish people for pregnancy outcomes and will always work to provide accurate resources and information, fight for increased resources for pregnant people and families, and advocate for the rights of pregnant people. We deserve the dignity to make decisions about our own pregnancies, families, and futures.
“For Tennesseeans, this decision will mean that clinics will be forced to stop providing abortion care and some will close altogether. The closest states providing care will be Illinois and Virginia. Poor and marginalized people will be forced to give birth against their will, and there will be increased surveillance and criminalization of people seeking abortion care and those assisting them. There will also be massive disinformation and an increase in patients seeking care at crisis pregnancy centers–state-funded, non-medical, religiously affiliated organizations that use shame and misinformation to manipulate people into carrying pregnancies against their will.
“This decision will not, however, lead to an end to self-managed abortions in Tennessee. Since Roe was decided, incredibly safe and effective methods to end pregnancies at home using pills have been developed, meaning that abortions that occur outside of a clinic are no longer necessarily unsafe. We urge people not to use stigmatizing language such as “back alley” or abortions when referring to self-managed abortion care, and instead to uplift the certainty of increases in pregnancy criminalization–that is, criminalizing people for their pregnancy outcomes–and the inability of providers to provide life-saving emergency care to people experiencing pregnancy loss.
“We expect this decision to lead to a push for laws that directly criminalize pregnant people. During this year’s legislative session, the General Assembly introduced HB2314, which would have changed the definition of “child” in the child abuse statute to include a fertilized embryo. This kind of language punishes pregnant people not only for obtaining abortion care, but also for experiencing domestic violence or lacking access to prenantal care. Police and DAs will also likely use laws that have already been enacted to criminalize people for pregnancy loss–we’ve already seen this happen in Tennessee. There will also likely be an onslaught of further restrictions–Republicans at the federal level are pushing a law that would ban abortion in all states at 6 weeks gestation. We can also expect people needing emergency care to be turned away from doctors and emergency rooms. In Texas, where abortion has been banned after 6 weeks, people have been turned away from health care facilities and been forced to drive hundreds of miles to seek care for an ectopic pregnancy or going into early labor.
While we are heartbroken, we have also been preparing for this possibility, and will continue to center abolition in the fight for reproductive justice for all Tennesseans. We will always oppose laws that punish people for pregnancy outcomes and will always work to provide accurate resources and information, fight for increased resources for pregnant people and families, and advocate for the rights of pregnant people in Tennessee.
Mayor John Cooper’s statement following the SCOTUS voting to overturn Roe v. Wade
“I am horrified that the Supreme Court would overturn precedent that’s been on the books for fifty years. I remain firmly in support of protecting women’s health care and a person’s right to choose. The legislature in Tennessee has decided to make it harder for women to access the care that they need — that is not who Nashville is. We strive to be a place where everyone – no matter your zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, income, or belief can live and thrive. It’s why people and businesses from all over the world move to Nashville. Today, I stand with the people of Nashville and Davidson County who have just had a fundamental right taken away from them.”