NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Today the Senate Health and Welfare Committee passed a resolution that reaffirms the legislature’s support of contraception access. This is a major step forward in an otherwise concerning year for contraception access in Tennessee. Earlier this year the Department of Health announced they were ending grants to community partners for HIV prevention, including condom distribution. Just two weeks ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted down a bill which would have clarified that Tennessee’s total abortion ban does not apply to contraception. Last fall, a ProPublica article detailed Tennessee Right to Life’s plans to attack contraception access in the future. 

“All Tennesseans deserve access to the full scope of contraception options of their choosing, without coercion or force, and free of charge,” says Briana Perry, Interim Executive Director of Healthy and Free Tennessee, a statewide organization advocating for reproductive justice. “The resolution reaffirms principles I think we can all agree on,” she added. Tennessee ranks highest in the nation for rates of unintended pregnancies. 

Tennessee has taken steps to expand contraception access in the last decade, including prescriptions through pharmacies and loosening some restrictions on young people’s access to contraception. However, advocates have expressed concern about plans to roll back contraception access. “This is the first legislative session since Tennessee’s trigger ban took effect, which banned abortion under any circumstance and overturned reproductive rights. This law has already had harsh consequences for some women going through difficult pregnancies. This resolution provides clarity in a time of uncertainty for many Tennesseans who depend on contraception to live their lives. It doesn’t go as far as I’d like, but it is a step in the right direction,” said Senator Raumesh Akbari, the resolution’s sponsor.

“We want this resolution to provide some hope for reproductive justice advocates in Tennessee. We can lead with our values and still win,” added Nina Gurak, Policy Director for Healthy and Free Tennessee. The resolution still needs to go to a floor vote. Healthy and Free Tennessee continues to monitor updates about contraception and abortion access in Tennessee.