Fighting The Fetal Assault Law

Healthcare Not Handcuffs was a state-wide and national effort led by Healthy and Free TNSisterReach, TAADAS, The National Advocates for Pregnant Women and other advocates to decriminalize pregnancy outcomes in Tennessee by pushing for the sunset of the state’s fetal assault law (the first of its kind in the nation) and to prevent other states from adopting similar laws.

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Lobbying 101: Influencing Decision Makers

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  • During Legislative Session, aim to make lobbying meetings at the Capitol early in session (January, February, early March). Meetings at end of session are difficult to come by

  • Legislators travel back to home districts on Mondays and end of week, aim to schedule meetings at the Capitol on Tuesdays

  • In district meetings with lawmakers are VERY IMPORTANT. They need to and appreciate hearing from us outside of legislative session or during session when they're back home--face to face meetings with constituents on home turf allow for more nuanced conversation. Encourage friends and neighbors to make meetings too (also it's helpful to bring a friend along with you for your first time)

  • Get to know legislator staff: they schedule meetings, determine how long you'll have to talk, and they know lots about the lawmakers they work with

  • Be persistent with message, be clear and make specific asks of lawmakers. Bring resources to share if you can. Legislators generally have little time to do deep research on issues and welcome and value hearing your perspective and any research you've been able to do.

  • Read up on lawmaker background and past voting history, you may be surprised where they stand on certain issues and find unlikely allies

  • Bills and companion bills must travel through House and Senate Committees. Bills can be killed at any point in committee travels so they may never reach the floor. Use the General Assembly website to see who is on the committees that your bills of interest will travel through--it's great to be able to make meetings with committee members especially if those members are also your local Representative or Senator. 

  • There are 99 members in TN House of Representatives (72R, 26D) and 50 votes needed for a bill to pass House floor

  • There are 33 Senators in TN Senate (28R, 5D) and 17 votes needed for a bill to pass Senate floor


Tennessee General Assembly Website: to look up bills, find your representatives, and watch videos of hearings. Also check the Apple Store or Google Play to download a free TN General Assembly App for your smart phone to search for bills or e-mail legislators on the go.

TN General Assembly Blue Book: manual of information on state government past and present

Lobbying for Non-Profits

Alliance for Justice's Bolder Advocacy Program provides free guidance to Non-Profit Organizations that need help navigating Federal regulations on lobbying. Alliance for Justice Counsel, Keely Monroe teamed up with us to host this great webinar outlining the basics of legal and effective political advocacy. 



Getting Your Opinion on the Opinion Page

From our 2015-16 webinar series! Some of the examples here are specific to the "Fetal Assault" law which were were deep in the midsts of battling at the time but the general tips and skills remain very relevant and useful! We also have a short/beginning glossary of arts and advocacy resources! *Note: we had some technical difficulties during recording so some of the end of our webinar including Q&A unfortunately got cut off. You can catch audio and visuals for most of the webinar by clicking the image below and can find the full visual slide show here.  


How to Have Difficult Conversations

Check out this slide show from our November 2015 webinar. Let us know what you think, if you have any questions, or anything you'd add!


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