The 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision will be celebrated by a coalition of more than forty Mid-South organizations, churches and individuals, led by Planned Parenthood, the Center for Research on Women (CROW) at the University of Memphis and Choices: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health.
“Religion, Law and Reproductive Rights: The 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade,” will take place at the University Center Theater at the University of Memphis beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 22nd. The event is free and open to the public. After a short reception, the documentary “From Danger to Dignity: The Fight for Safe Abortion” will be shown, followed by a panel discussion. Betsy Mandel-Carley, a social worker who participated in the original case that became known as Roe v. Wade, will introduce the film.
“From Danger to Dignity: The Fight for Safe Abortion” tells the story of the movement to legalize abortion that began long before the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. The documentary, released in 1995 by film maker Dorothy Fadiman, features interviews with many activists who worked to legalize abortion in the early 1960’s. The movement was led by women, clergymen, physicians, and a few brave state representatives in a handful of states, who put their political careers on the line to propose liberalized abortion laws. Their personal stories of the struggle to ensure that women could access safe and legal abortion are especially poignant and timely in light of the current political climate, in which more than 600 abortion restrictions were introduced into state legislatures last year.
WKNO-TV host Mamie Shannon will serve as moderator of the discussion following the documentary screening. Serving on the panel are Brian Faughnan, an attorney on the Board of Directors of the ACLU-Tennessee; Dr. Rosalyn Nichols, the pastor of Freedom’s Chapel Christian Church; Tennessee Representative Karen Camper; Dr. Carl Reddix, Jackson, MS ob/gyn and former member of the Mississippi Board of Health; Sarah Wilkerson Freeman, an Associate Professor of History at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro; and Dr. Owen Phillips, an obstetrician-gynecologist and the Associate Dean of Students at UT Medical School.
Lynda Sagrestano, the Director of CROW and an associate professor of psychology at the University of Memphis said, “The Center for Research on Women is pleased to be sponsoring this event on behalf of an anonymous donation made to highlight the separation of church and state. The event is dedicated to the trailblazing women who struggled to get federal support for public education in Tennessee and to achieve equal treatment and rights for women.”
Aimee Lewis, Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region’s Director of Development said, “We were overwhelmed by how enthusiastically organizations, individuals, and churches jumped on board as hosts and supporters. Almost every group we contacted wanted to support the event in some way. It’s very gratifying to see such widespread interest in and support for the Roe v. Wade decision in our community.”
Rebecca Terrell, the Executive Director of Choices agreed, "The number and array of local organizations that have stepped up to proudly and publicly support a woman's right to control what happens to her own body sends the powerful message that reproductive freedom and justice are valued in Memphis. I am so proud of our community for standing up for women.”
Each organization that agreed to host the event gave at least $100, used to offset the cost of the space and the reception. To see the full list of hosts and supporting organizations, please see this webpage: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/memphis/RoeHostOrgs.