A Tennessee woman whose health was put at risk by her state’s abortion ban is now running for state House. Allie Phillips had already named her baby Miley Rose when testing at 18 weeks found conditions incompatible with life. Doctors told Phillips that continuing the pregnancy would endanger her health—but that she couldn’t get an abortion in Tennessee. Phillips went to New York for an abortion. Then she joined a lawsuit challenging the narrow exceptions and lack of clarity about when they apply in Tennessee’s abortion ban. Now she’s taking the next step to creating change.
"This is something new for me," Phillips told the Nashville Post. "Given my story and the outreach I've had with it, it seemed like a no-brainer to take this and open new doors. I can scream online all day, but in order to make a change I need to actually be in a position to make that change."
Phillips runs an in-home daycare, and the Post reports that while reproductive health care is her top issue, “she is also planning to run in support of public education funding, ‘keeping guns out of schools,’ LGBTQ rights including gender-affirming care, access to health care and infrastructure improvements, especially to help Clarksville-Nashville commuters.”
District 75, where Phillips is running, is currently represented by Rep. Jeff Burkhart, a first-term Republican who ran unopposed in 2022. The district is historically deep-red, but Phillips told the Nashville Post she thought that after redistricting, it “is a winnable seat but not an easily winnable seat.”
It’s definitely a stretch. But given how many women have been harmed by these laws—Phillips isn’t the only high-profile case to have come out of Tennessee—candidacies like hers do seem like an important next step in the fight against extreme abortion bans. Campaigns could dovetail with on-the-ground organizing efforts to do the long-term work of regaining abortion rights. People looking for chances to take up this fight in their local communities would have a place to turn, in ways that could survive beyond any one election cycle or campaign.
And who knows, if enough candidates with personal stories of harm from abortion bans run, even in red districts, someone might win.
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