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Knoxville demonstrators gather in support of abortion rights

The protest comes as a leaked draft opinion implies the Supreme Court is planning to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The protest comes as a leaked draft opinion implies the Supreme Court is planning to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 7:29 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Protestors in Knoxville gathered at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Courthouse Tuesday in support of abortion rights. The protest followed a leaked draft opinion obtained by Politico that implied the Supreme Court is planning to overturn Roe v. Wade, the case that secured abortions rights in the United States.

The protest, which was set for 5 p.m., brought together around 200 people. Demonstrators brought signs and megaphones to express their anger at the idea of revoking abortion rights. “This is an attack on reproductive rights on our most vulnerable in our community…and that is disappointing,” said one protestor.

Roe v. Wade was a landmark 1973 case which led to the Supreme Court decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion. The majority decided abortion was an absolute right for those in the first trimester of pregnancy. Since the case, many elected officials have come forward in support of repealing the ruling and establishing more regulation at the state level.

Protestors carried signs at the courthouse with slogans promoting less government intervention on women’s bodies. “Abortion rights are human rights” and “this is not ovary-acting” were two of many signs at the event.

Those opposed to Roe v. Wade have said their interest is not restricting women’s access to medical care, but instead to protecting the lives of the unborn. Rep. Jason Zachary took to Twitter after the draft was leaked, saying “We need to pray for this pending decision that will save millions of lives.” Gov. Bill Lee also released a statement on the leaked draft, saying “Tennessee’s laws will automatically provide the maximum possible protection and offer a glimmer of redemption as America reconciles our troubled past.”

Access to abortion is about more than just reproductive health, however. A protestor at Tuesday’s event stood in front of her fellow demonstrators to chant “what about a woman’s heartbeat?” She later told WVLT News that she was a social worker and her last case involved a 15-year-old girl who had gotten pregnant and contracted HIV. The girl’s parents did not believe in abortion so she committed suicide, the protestor told WVLT News.

The American Psychological Association has conducted several studies on how access to abortion affects mental health, concluding that restricting access leads to mental health harm for those that would seek the procedure. “Rigorous, long-term psychological research demonstrates clearly that people who are denied abortions are more likely to experience higher levels of anxiety, lower life satisfaction and lower self-esteem compared with those who are able to obtain abortions,” said APA President Frank C. Worrell, PhD. “In addition, there is no research to indicate that abortion is a cause for subsequent mental health diagnoses.”

You can learn more about Roe v. Wade here.

Families looking for support can reach out to the Hope Clinic for Women, Psalm 139 Project or Agape Child & Family Services.

Those looking for reproductive care can contact the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health or Planned Parenthood.

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