Library Research Notes #49
Advocating for Reproductive Justice in Nashville
Library Research Notes is a product of hippiegrrl media, where we believe that Black Lives Matter, Climate Change is real, Treaties should be honored, Bodily autonomy is essential, Love is love, No human is illegal, Science=Truth, Unions work, Gun Reform is imperative, and the time for Trans Liberation is now! We value your readership. If you enjoy the Library Research Notes newsletter, please share it with a friend.
Happy Wednesday, dear readers! After 3 years of dodging COVID-19, it finally got me at the beginning of March. I was positive on the 2nd and negative on the 8th, so I am getting better, but wow was the exhaustion a lot. I heard people talk about that side effect, but didn’t really get it until now. And the time change did NOT help with that either. Why oh why are we still doing this time change thing?
Anyway - I was pretty foggy from the sickness for the first couple weeks of the month, but I’m coming around. This time, I want to share my experience at the Tennessee General Assembly, in Nashville. Thank you for joining me on this newsletter adventure. If you enjoy this content, however sporadic it might be, please share with a friend and, as always, I would love to interact in the comment threads!
Bearing witness to the actual mess in Tennessee
Yesterday was Planned Parenthood Advocacy Day at the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville. A large group of PP supporters came to town from all over the state to speak to legislators, attend meetings, and be in community with one another as we watch our rights being ripped away in real time.
Now, I know that sounds dramatic, and maybe it is, but it is also true. This session has been pretty bad for human rights. If you thought overturning Roe v. Wade was the worst of it, you haven’t been paying attention to the south, and specifically Tennessee. We are apparently the test case for the right to life coalition (who also decided to do their advocacy day yesterday on the hill, which was “fun”) and the bills that are being pushed through here will show their strength on the national level. So, be aware, if you live in the North, East, or West - this might start in the South, but it will end with the whole nation losing bodily autonomy rights.
The point of intersection for all the bills that have been pushed through the Tennessee State Senate and House this term, and what our advocacy on the hill was focused on yesterday (and everyday), is bodily autonomy. Republicans want to strip us of it by forcing birth, removing funding for HIV, banning drag shows, removing gender affirming care for teens AND adults, and generally taking us back in time to where the straight, white, cis, christofascist, dudes felt most comfortable. They want to live in the past and be in charge of everyone.
Senate Judiciary Committee Meeting
Nowhere was this ‘in charge’ attitude more apparent than in the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting where the chair of the committee admonished people for standing in the back by stating, “if you are standing along the wall, you must take a seat. nobody stands in this meeting”, in that patriarchal tone that only an abusive father could conjure up. And it hit me - we are merely children in the world of these dudes. They feel that their way is the only way and they need to dictate to us how we should behave. They are the parents and the rest of us (the majority of us) are teenagers who need to be taught how to behave. Nowhere is this more evident than in these bills that restrict bodily autonomy.
So the tone was set from the moment we stepped in the room. Sit down, shut up, and listen to the ‘adults’ discuss your future.
When we arrived, the committee was discussing a bill that would lower the age of gun ownership to 18. They spent nearly 45 minutes discussing an amendment to the bill and then extolling the virtues of the 2nd amendment. There was a witness that was a proponent of the bill who talked about being a police officer and seeing the good that more guns did to lower the crime rate (seriously) in the city. The only voice of reason during this part of the session was Senator London Lamar, who asked the witness about other interventions, along with expanded gun ownership, that may have been factors in the lower crime rates. The witness had to concede that indeed, there were other programs that were at play. Senator Lamar then gave a stirring, dissenting opinion on the matter before voting no on the bill, which passed out of committee, 7-2.
I would like to point out that Senator Kerry Roberts (R), who is the Senator for my district (and declined a meeting with the three of us from his district who were present yesterday), and who lists community involvement with Tennessee Right to Life on his profile (of course he does) voted YES on this bill, in front of several women who were also on the hill from Moms Demand Action. Ironic is an understatement. Disgusting would be spot on.
This same committee, later in the day, referred an “exceptions” bill (SB0745/HB0883) to modify the current trigger ban, to the Senate Health and Welfare committee, to be heard on the 28th. The bill passed the House today, 83-11. As noted below by one of our favourite lawyers in Tennessee, Chloe Akers, the bill is not a true exceptions bill as it does not protect pregnant people OR doctors. The only thing that will is to life the ban and allow pregnant people the right to bodily autonomy. Be sure to watch to the end, so you can see what the chair of Tennessee Right to Life said a while back, when the bill was being amended. They DO NOT CARE about life. They truly need to stop saying they do.
Meeting with Senator Campbell
Early in the day, we had the chance to meet with Senator Heidi Campbell. Although I am not in her district (yet?!) I was excited to meet her. These Legislators who are fighting the good fight, against a Republican supermajority, are truly rock stars. At least to a poli-sci geek like myself they are. She talked to us for 20 minutes, but the time flew by. We discussed how the Legislature came to be so Republican (prior to the 2014 election, the Democrats were actually in the majority, but surprise surprise, gerrymandering), what we can do to move forward and stay energized, and what it is like to be the voice of reason in a legislature that feels like it has lost sight of the goals of our State. She is both kind and tough and the discussion was wonderful. It definitely gave us a bit of hope going into the second half of the day.
After our meeting, we went to the offices of members who are working hard for EVERY Tennesseean, with messages of thanks from constituents. The East Nashtavists, an awesome action council in East Nashville that is doing great advocacy work around voting, reproductive justice, and lgbtqia+ rights, held an event to write the postcards, and we were honoured to hand them off to the legislators we so admire.
During lunch, we were able to sit in on a panel discussion on how to fight the anti-trans legislation that has been passing through the general assembly as well. The speakers injected some energy into the afternoon, sending us off with new thoughts and ideas of how to advocate for our trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming siblings. For more on the ‘slate of hate’ that has come through the legislature this term, click to read my last post: The Mess in Tennessee.
Overall, it was a roller coaster of a day but I’m happy I attended. I actually feel more energized than ever and I’m hoping to be able to go back to advocate again very soon. I hope that you are also advocating for what is right in your city and state and that we can all keep up the fight. We are on the right side of history and we have to keep moving forward, together.
Good news from the stacks
You made it to the end! Here is some good news from libraries/librarians…
House passes bill prohibiting book bans - Illinois knows what’s up. (capitolnewsillinois.com)
Public libraries exist is to serve the entire community (idahoednews.org)