(Memphis, TN) – Statement by Allison Glass, State Director of Healthy and Free TN on the release of a letter signed by more than 35 local, state and federal groups urging Tennessee legislators to focus on advancing fair and effective policies to support women and families and put an end to the fetal assault law:
“Tennessee’s fetal assault law has harmed the very families it claims to help. It has resulted in the arrest of more than thirty women. It has torn mothers away from their young children and made them scared to seek care. There is growing momentum behind the effort to push for this law to sunset. In fact, more than 35 local, state and national organizations signed on to a letter opposing this law and calling on Tennessee lawmakers to halt any efforts to extend the law.
When Tennessee enacted the fetal assault law, women were told that they can avoid jail time if they complete a treatment program, but in actuality many women are being forced into the criminal justice system because they either cannot afford paying out of pocket for medication assisted treatment or they are turned away from treatment programs because there are not enough facilities available.
As we talk with people here in Tennessee and throughout the county we hear that people are concerned about the harmful impacts of this law. The fact is that women’s health, rights and safety are at stake when going to seek healthcare results in the threat of criminal sanctions – especially in light of the disparate impact that these kinds of policies have on low-income women and women of color.
Tennessee is spending tax dollars putting mothers through the costly criminal justice system when those funds could be used to expand access to evidence based treatment programs in Tennessee that provide care for pregnant women, as well as programs that allow older children to stay with their mothers. For areas of the state with high NAS rates, lawmakers should also look at developing and funding pilot maternity and infant care programs that are based on recommendations for infants with NAS symptoms and that increase the quality, safety and value of newborn care in our state.”
We urge Tennessee lawmakers to oppose Senate Bill 1629 and House Bill 1660. Let this harmful law sunset and instead commit to more effective, evidence-based solutions to address pregnancy and drug use.”
Click HERE to see the full sign on letter with 38 organizations representing thousands of women across Tennessee and throughout the country.
Allison Glass is available for interview upon request.
Organizations Opposing SB 1629/HB 1660 and Calling for the Sunset of the TN Fetal Assault Law:
ACCESS Women’s Health Justice
Advocates for Youth
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN)
Catholics for Choice
Center for Reproductive Rights
Chattanooga Organized for Action
CHOICES: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health
Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR)
The First Year Foundation Incorporated
Healthy and Free TN
Law Students for Reproductive Justice – Vanderbilt
Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center
Multidisciplinary Intensive Support Treatment (MIST)
Nashville Feminist Collective
National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW)
National Alliance for Medication Assisted (NAMA) Recovery of Tennessee
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum – Nashville chapter
National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW)
National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) – Tennessee section
National Institute for Reproductive Health
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF)
National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF)
National Women’s Law Center
Physicians for Reproductive Health
SisterSong: National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective
SPARK Reproductive Justice Now
Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug & other Addiction Services (TAADAS)
West Virginia Free
Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga
Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis
In addition to this incredible list, there are several other local organizations working with us to eliminate the fetal assault law.