KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Hundreds of people took to the downtown streets of Knoxville to show their support of abortion rights following the leaked Supreme Court draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Caroline Mann, one of the organizers of the Women’s March Coalition of East TN in partnership and Coalition with Planned Parenthood, said this decision could come with a lot of risks.
“If Roe v. Wade is overturned, we’re going to see a spike in maternal deaths, we’re going to see the health of people who get pregnant at risk because of this law,” Mann said. “I think this decision is little understood.”
Although the draft does not represent the final position of any member of the court, when looking at the state of Tennessee, according to a Pew Research survey, more than 50% of people believe abortions should be illegal. When breaking it down by gender, 54% of men compared to 46% of women in the state would support the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
Even with that data, Cathy Henschen, a community action team leader for Knoxville Advocates for reproductive rights, believes there is still a chance to change the state’s majority thought on abortion.
“I think we have enough people who believe that these are decisions that should be made by a woman, her family, and her health care provider, not politicians in Nashville or Washington,” she said.
Some of those people Henschen believes will help be the change are parents of young children. One Knoxville man brought his young daughter to participate in the rally, amongst other children.
“I am raising two girls and I’m, for the first time in my life, genuinely scared about what their future is going to look like,” he said. “I think this is ultra important that they have the same rights that everybody has had for the past 50 years.”
His daughter also shared her thoughts.
“I think everybody should be treated good,” she said. “You aren’t the boss of my body,” she said reading from the sign she held.
Sarah Eldridge, a mother, is also in support of abortion rights. She says after experiencing pregnancy twice, she defines it as not easy.
“I was very, very sick, I really could not do the things I wanted to do, it was hard on my job and so it’s really important to me that we not go backward, that my daughters do not lose the right to control their own bodies,” Eldridge said.
Her story along with many others is being shared to keep what has been in place since 1973. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, it will leave millions of pregnant women nationwide without the option to get an abortion.
“We are not going to give up, we are not going to despair, we are going to fight, we are going to standup. You cannot stop women,” Henschen said.
Tennessee is one of 26 states expected to ban abortion if Roe is overturned.