In response to the dismal mainstream press coverage of this year’s Roe Anniversary Pro-Choice demonstration in Nashville, the Tennessee Guerilla Women wrote the story you might have seen if only you were lucky enough to live in a town with a “liberal” newspaper.

The demonstration marked the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion by ruling:  “The states are not free, under the guise of protecting maternal health or potential life, to intimidate women into continuing pregnancies.”

Pro choice advocates in Middle Tennessee braved gusting winds and sub-zero wind chill temperatures in order to honor the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. According to the local newspaper, The Tennessean, approximately 100 Tennesseans demonstrated on January 22, in support of Choice, outside the Capitol in downtown Nashville.

It was the largest pro-choice demonstration Nashville has seen in a decade.

Undoubtedly, pro-choice demonstrators held the recent images of Ukrainians, standing up for democracy, firmly in mind as the Tennesseans subjected themselves to the paralyzing cold snap in order to stand up for Choice.

The Tennessee Right-to-Life (TRL) organization held a simultaneous rally on the Capital grounds. The TRL had gathered its troops not just to mourn Roe, but to energize their supporters for the upcoming battle to pass an anti-choice constitutional amendment.

A number of state legislators were spotted at the anti-choice rally. Rumors that Democratic State Rep. Mike Turner was in attendance were unconfirmed. The democrat has been a featured speaker in at least one RTL rally in the past. Last year he sponsored a proposed anti-choice constitutional amendment that would abolish the state's guarantee to abortion rights, even though there were plenty of Republicans willing to sponsor it. The measure failed, but with the new legislative session only weeks old, legislators have already taken steps to revive it. 

Tennessee Guerilla Women spokesperson, Sandy Smith Madsen said the pro-choice demonstration was in response to the ongoing legislative threats to women's reproductive rights.  

 “When it comes to reproductive rights,” Madsen noted, “ Tennessee is one of the worst states in the nation. Legislators should be passing laws that help women avoid unintended pregnancies, such as mandating greater access to emergency contraception. Instead they scheme to take away the few reproductive rights we have in this state.”

Madsen said she was stunned by the size of the demonstration. “The biggest pro choice demonstration we saw last year consisted of 15 participants. Fifteen demonstrators on a beautiful warm spring day, a day which was the culmination of an intensive legislative effort to strip women's right to choose from the state constitution. After an entire legislative session of threats, 15 women and men was the best we could do”, observed Madsen.

The event was billed as the “Defend Reproductive Freedom: Stand Up to TN Legislators” demonstration and was organized by the Tennessee Guerilla Women. Participants included Nashville NOW, Vanderbilt Medical Students for Choice, Vandy Girls for Choice, members of Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee, Democracy for Tennessee , ACLU-TN, Nashville Peace & Justice Center , as well as Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee State University students.

Throughout much of the afternoon, RTL organizers blasted the downtown area with ear-splitting Christian music. The pro-choice crowd responded by dancing and swaying their pro-choice bodies and signs. At times they joined in with the lyrics, waving their signs to the beat and singing a decidedly pro-choice version of Celebrate Life.

As the anti-choice demonstrators packed up and fled the paralyzing cold, the pro-choice crowd of young and old, male and female cheered them off with chants of: Pro Life - It's A Lie - They Don't Care If Women Die.

Despite the cold, pro-choice advocates remained in high spirits, exchanging email addresses, admiring each other's signs, laughing, joking. “We've had our share of defeats,” Madsen said, “but on that day in Nashville , TN , it felt like a victory.” 

Out & About Knoxville (excerpt)
Knoxville activists protest inauguration, Bush policies
by Beth Maples-Bays

East Tennessee Bureau Chief

KNOXVILLE – Protesters gathered in front of the John J. Duncan Federal Building on Locust Street in downtown Knoxville to protest the inauguration of George Bush as President of the United States for a second term.

Organized by the Knoxville faction of the Tennessee Guerilla Women, the group represented a wide variety of activist causes with a presence in Knoxville . Included were the Highlander Center in New Market, the Knoxville Green Party, the Democratic Women's Club, the Tennessee Equality Project, the Human Rights Campaign, Katuah Earth First, the Progressive Students Alliance from the University of Tennessee, involve Knoxville, the Knox County Democratic Party, and others along with individuals and couples who wanted to make their voice heard.

Signs and banners included anti-war and anti-racism messages and affirmative messages regarding the need for GLBT rights, a living wage, health care, Iraqi and American war casualties, and other human rights issues. Environmentalists protested the Bush administrations policies with a sign reading, “More trees, less Bush.” Yet another attempt at humor was evident in one protester's “Ignoregurate Bush.”

Read the whole thing.