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Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region Marks 42nd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade: We Must Have Honest Conversations about Abortion in America Today

[MEMPHIS, TN] — This month, as Americans celebrate and reflect on the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling 42 years ago, Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region (PPGMR) urges Congress and state legislators to listen to doctors and medical experts who know that legal abortion is safe and that politicians should not interfere in personal medical decisions.

“Despite the fact that abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States and is supported by the majority of Americans, we’re seeing more and more legislation moving forward at both the state and federal level designed to restrict access. As the nation’s leading women’s health care provider and advocate, Planned Parenthood knows how dangerous these restrictions are for women, that’s why we’re urging Congress and state legislators to listen to doctors when it comes to policy that affects women’s health,” said Ashley Coffield, President and CEO of PPGMR.

Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. each year are unintended, and four in 10 of these are ended by medically safe, legal abortions.  However, the abortion rate in 2011 (the latest year for which national data are available) was the lowest rate nationwide since 1973. In 2013, 14,216 women had abortions in Tennessee compared to 17,479 in 2000, a 19 percent decrease.  The decline is likely due to growing use of reliable long-acting contraceptives like the IUD, which are available to women free of charge at PPGMR.  Programs like PPGMR’s Free Condoms Memphis, which gave away 295,815 condoms in 2014, are also proactive vehicles to help reduce unintended pregnancies. 

A variety of studies, including research from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, show that abortion has over a 99 percent safety record.  Women experience major complications less than one percent of the time.  In the rare cases when complications do occur, they are similar to those that may occur from miscarriage, which ob-gyns and other physicians treat every day.

It’s been 42 years this month since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that a woman’s constitutional right to privacy includes her right to abortion. Since then, opponents of women’s health have been working tirelessly to chip away at access to safe and legal abortion by passing restrictions under the guise of protecting patient safety.  As a result, more than half of all women of reproductive age live in a state where their access is being restricted.  

On November 4 in Shelby County, the largest county in Tennessee, over 65 percent of registered voters cast ballots against Amendment 1. Amendment 1 was a state constitutional amendment that removed privacy rights from the Tennessee constitution and allows the state to pass new laws restricting access to or banning abortion, even in cases of rape, incest or threats to the life of the woman.  Amendment 1 passed narrowly in the state by a vote of 53%. 

“To ensure abortion remains safe, legal, and accessible, we must replace misinformation with the facts and start having honest conversations about abortion in America today. Here at Planned Parenthood, we are proud to provide abortion services, and we ensure that women have accurate and unbiased information about all of their options and the counseling and support they need. Ultimately, decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child must be left to a woman with the counsel of her health care provider, her family, and her faith,” continued Coffield.



Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region (PPGMR), founded in 1938, is an affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. PPGMR’s mission is to ensure broad public access to reproductive and related health care through clinic services, education, advocacy and community partnerships in serving 42 counties in West Tennessee, North Mississippi and East Arkansas. 


Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region


Latrivia Nelson 
Director of Communications and Marketing
Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region

[email protected] 



January 22, 2015


January 23, 2015