This post is part of the Youth ShowOUT campaign, a collaboration between the Feminist Majority Foundation’s CHOICES Feminist Campus Leadership Program, Advocates for Youth, and Planned Parenthood Foundation of America’s Planned Parenthood Generation campaign. To learn more about the campaign, check out our launch post.
Here in Tennessee, we’re facing one of the biggest attacks on reproductive rights we’ve ever seen – a proposed constitutional amendment that endanger’s women’s health and interferes with our privacy rights. Amendment 1 reads: Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.
If this amendment passes, our politicians can pass whatever restrictions on abortion they want regardless of the cost to (over) half of the population. These politicians think they can get away with this because they think we are stupid. They think we’ll believe those exceptions will be protected. They think women don’t vote. They think we won’t fight.
We will defeat Amendment 1 – and we’ll work like heck to make sure of it. Here at East Tennessee State University, we’ve been organizing around this issue since March. Students in our FMLA have been pissed since the moment we found out about Amendment 1, and now that we’re less than two months away from the election we’re organizing several events each week to get other people pissed off about it, too. When people’s basic human rights are at stake, they become motivated to volunteer more time than they regularly would.
We’re hoping to raise awareness about Amendment 1 and mobilize voters before November 4. Here’s how we’re doing it:
- We’re registering voters. In the end it doesn’t matter how many people are on your side if they don’t or can’t vote. In 2010, only 22.8 percent of eligible US voters aged 18 to 29 voted at all. When issues that immediately affect young people are at risk (like abortion), we cannot afford such low voter turnout. We have to help them and make the process as simple as possible. In the month of September, we’ve had five tabling events scheduled in a high-traffic area where students can fill out voter registration forms and have us mail them in. By making the process quick, convenient, and free many more college students become registered than if the process was something they had to seek out and pay for themselves (such as postage or gas to the commission office; to college students every cent matters).
- We’re tabling in a public place every single week. We set up in the campus food court and approach as many students as we can, as well as drawing them in with free goodies like condoms. Even if the people you talk to are from out of state or don’t plan on voting, if they share what they learned with someone else, that can make a difference.
- We’re doing whatever it takes to spread the word. This involves a wide variety of events, from phone banking to canvassing to showing documentaries and everything in between. We are organizing any type of event that could educate voters. It helps to have a mixture of traditional organizing and fun events like dessert potlucks or movie nights.
Above all, it’s important to project confidence.
We can win this.
We can defeat Amendment 1.
Live in Tennessee? You can vote NO on Amendment 1 by mail and in person from October 16 – 30 or vote on Election day, November 4.