Policy & Legislation

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. 

HFTN's Proactive Policy Agenda 2021

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
SB1412: Anti-Shackling 
SB1423: Body Cavity Search Ban

2021 Legislative Tracking & Analysis

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. 

Group of multi-racial healthy and Free Tennessee supporters hold banner with Healthy and Free Tennessee logo pictured with legislator

2021 Legislative Watchlist

On Feb 25th, 2021 HFTN was part of a press conference on the "forced birth agenda" organized with Planned Parenthood featuring the founder of Homeland Heart, a member of SONG who is also a midwife, and the Policy Director for ACLU-TN. Read the transcript of our remarks here. Watch here

Past sessions:

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.

Group of Healthy and Free Tennessee supporters with blue t-shirts. Standing outside of a hearing room with a legislator Group of Healthy and Free Tennessee supporters holding a banner of Healthy and Free Tennessee's logo pictured with a legislator

2021 Virtual Day on the Hill

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.

 

This year we met virtually on Tuesday, February 23rd. The schedule was as follows: 

 

9:00 AM-10:00 AM CT 

Welcome & Introduction 
Review of HFTN’s Proactive Bills 
Practice Answering Questions 

10:00 AM-11:30 AM CT 

Individual/Group Appointments with Legislators 
Appointments will take place online through Zoom or phone calls
Debrief of Meetings 

11:30 AM-12:30 PM CT 

Lunch 
Free Hearts Presentation 
House Health Subcommittee Hearing (where HJR 0004: Doula Recognition Resolution was heard

12:30-2:00 PM CT 

The Importance of Doulas Panel Discussion Featuring: 

  • Lauren Williams-Batiste, Parent & Doula Client, Memphis, TN 
  • Dr. Nikia Grayson, Director of Clinical Services, CHOICES, Memphis, TN 
  • Tyresa Husbands, Vice President & Program Manager, Homeland Heart Birth & Wellness Collective, Nashville, TN 
  • Mia Peake, Founder of Peake Wellness, Memphis, TN  

[Image description: screenshot of a zoom meeting with five Black women smiling at their computer cameras. From left to right clockwise pictured are Elena Ferguson, Tyresa Husbands, Nikia Grayson, Mia Peake, and Lauren Williams-Batiste]

 

 


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