Healthy and Free Tennessee envisions a future where sexual health and reproductive freedom is a reality for all Tennesseeans. Our policy and advocacy work bring us closer to that vision. The Tennessee General Assembly takes actions that impact reproductive freedom every year. We write and introduce bills that work to uplift reproductive freedom values, track and strategize around bills that limit or scale back reproductive freedom, and provide research, analysis, and training on advocating for reproductive freedom at the state-level.
We understand the limitations of policy work, and we use it as an opportunity to educate our supporters, not only on our issues and the legislative process but also on the importance of centering the most marginalized people in our struggle for reproductive freedom. We strive to model this principle in our policy and advocacy priorities and goals. Policy work allows us to strengthen relationships and create tangible cross-movement collaborations to build an even stronger movement for reproductive freedom in Tennessee.
Current Policy and Advocacy Work
During the 2021 session, we are navigating this new normal with our strong commitments to reproductive freedom as our guide, introducing anti-shackling legislation for the third year in a row and introducing a body cavity search ban on pregnant and postpartum incarcerated people. We also worked with Representative London Lamar and our partner, Homeland Heart Birth and Wellness Collective to draft and introduce a resolution that recognizes doulas as vital birth workers.
HJR 4: Doula Recognition Resolution - Rep. London Lamar
Tennessee's legislative session generally runs between early January and early May each year. During that time, legislators, partners, national advocacy groups, and Tennessee residents suggest, draft, or encourage the legislature to take up certain actions or bills. These bills cover a full range of reproductive freedom issues including abortion, public benefits, sex work, immigration, criminal-legal systems reform, housing and many many more. Every year we sort through the introduced bills and create a watchlist. Using the reproductive justice framework as our guide, we strive to highlight bills that receive little attention from partners and allies and that can have a real impact on Tennesseans' reproductive freedom. We compile the watchlist after the filing deadline, generally in mid-February, and update it regularly throughout the session. For a more detailed report of introduced legislation impacting reproductive freedom from 2011-2020, read our Tennessee Over Ten report.
2020 Legislative Session in Review
2019 Legislative Session in Review
2018 Legislative Session in Review
2017 Legislative Session in Review
2016 Legislative Session in Review
2015 Legislative Session in Review
Research and Analysis
Healthy and Free Tennessee creates policy research reports and analysis on relevant state and federal policy events. Our most recent report, Tennessee Over Ten: Reproductive Freedom at the State Legislature 2011-2020, examines over 500 bills introduced in the last decade impacting reproductive freedom. The report also highlights the following ten reproductive freedom issue areas: family planning; public benefits and criminalizing poverty; drug use, pregnancy, and parenting; child custody and welfare systems; LGBTQIA issues; HIV and STIs; sex work; family-friendly workplace policies and child care; pregnancy and postpartum healthcare; and sex education.
Healthy and Free Tennessee also hosts a blog on reproductive freedom issues. The blog is updated regularly with timely reproductive freedom analysis and advocacy updates. For questions about research or our blog, please email Nina at [email protected]
Get Informed, Get Involved
Interested in learning more about reproductive freedom policy work in Tennessee? Fill out this form to schedule a training for a group or sign yourself up for a future general training.
Interested in hearing about the latest in reproductive freedom policy? Email Nina at [email protected] to sign up for our biweekly policy calls.
Join us at our 2021 Virtual Day on the Hill register HERE.
Healthy and Free Tennessee hosts a day on the hill each year in February where we mobilize Tennesseans to action in visiting their legislators, to ensure elected officials hear directly from their constituents. This event is open to anyone who is interested! Each year, we set up appointments with legislators for participants, and provide them with a list of current legislation to discuss, plus talking points to guide their conversations. The day includes a morning lobbying training and an afternoon lunch with guest speakers. We will set up appointments with your legislators for you, and provide you with specific legislation to discuss with them, plus talking points to guide you. In the afternoon, we encourage participants to attend committee hearings, and finally, we will end the day with a press conference.