Our Partners in Tennessee
We've worked with the following partners in this state to expand access to reproductive health care.
Healthy and Free Tennessee
In 2021, NIRH is working with Healthy and Free Tennessee (HFTN) to ensure that incarcerated pregnant people in Tennessee can access adequate reproductive health care in a timely manner. Building on HFTN’s success in 2020 passing legislation to guarantee access to comprehensive prenatal care for incarcerated pregnant people, this year’s policy goal is to pass legislation addressing other indignities in the treatment of incarcerated pregnant people: banning shackling and body cavity searches. This policy push – in one of the remaining 20+ states that have yet to act against shackling -- will help raise awareness about the issues facing incarcerated pregnant people among partners, stakeholders, and the general public while building a more inclusive vision of reproductive justice in Tennessee.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Following their successful work with SisterReach to improve reimbursement for immediate postpartum LARC and with support from NIRH, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville are continuing their efforts to increase access by educating community providers on this service, training hospital providers and administrators on how to address existing barriers and hosting stakeholder meetings across the state. They are also continuing to advocate for improved reimbursement for LARC with private payers. NIRH has supported this work since 2016.
CHOICES Memphis Center for Reproductive Health
CHOICES, an innovative, patient-centered reproductive health practice serving the Memphis area, worked in 2019 to increase access to LARC for their patients, with an eye toward developing a model that can benefit other independent clinics around the country. They created and implemented systems changes that included standardized procedures for educating patients, ordering and tracking LARC inventory, and raising public awareness of the full range of methods of contraception available.
CHOICES developed a patient advocacy program in 2017, and identified patients that would receive training in a variety of new skills including legislative advocacy. Together, CHOICES and these new leaders advocated for access to reproductive health care, including abortion, and against restrictions.
University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Following their successful work with SisterReach to improve reimbursement for immediate postpartum LARC and with support from NIRH, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and Vanderbilt University Medical Center are continuing their efforts to increase access by educating community providers on this service, training hospital providers and administrators on how to address existing barriers and hosting stakeholder meetings across the state. They are also continuing to advocate for improved reimbursement for LARC with private payers. NIRH has supported this work since 2016.
From 2016 to 2019, NIRH supported SisterReach, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in their work to improve access to LARC across the state of Tennessee using a reproductive justice framework. Through the lifetime of this project, this coalition successfully advocated to improve Medicaid reimbursement for immediate postpartum LARC in hospitals and worked to develop and implement systems that facilitated providing this service in hospitals across the state. The coalition worked with providers, health officials, and patients to increase awareness of LARC, patients’ rights to make their own decisions about contraception, and of methods of counseling and service provision that are patient-centered and anti-coercive. In 2019, SisterReach completed a series of community conversations across the state to understand how patients experience care, including any bias or contraceptive coercion, to further inform best practices for providers.
In 2017, NIRH continued its support of SisterReach’s Youth Ambassadors (SYAs) program, a youth-led group that advocates for comprehensive sexuality education. Restrictive state policy on sexuality education and the state’s increasing reliance on biased and limited services of crisis pregnancy centers – fake clinics that deceive women – mean that many young people in Tennessee receive almost no sexual health education at all. NIRH supported SisterReach’s SYA program to run a campaign to repeal Shelby County’s “opt-in” sexuality education policy. With NIRH’s support, 20 SYAs received intensive training in reproductive justice, sexual health, and community service, including peer-to-peer education, skills for speaking with community members and elected officials, and campaign leadership. The SYAs went on deliver presentations to the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators and the Shelby County School Board on reforming state and local policies so families have to opt-out of receiving sex education as opposed to opting-in. The #CSE4TN campaign also included a strong faith-based narrative and SisterReach and its coalition partners engaged key stakeholders and the larger community at their ten “CSE Report Out” town hall events. In 2013, SisterReach recruited youth ambassadors to create the SYA program, and the ambassadors led the Choose2Wait initiative to support comprehensive sexuality education in Memphis. With NIRH’s support, SisterReach also conducted focus groups with people of color on sex education in Memphis and published the first report in Tennessee specifically focused on people of color and sex education.
Healthy & Free Tennessee
In 2014, Healthy & Free Tennessee played an instrumental role in the "No on One" campaign to prevent a state constitutional amendment from removing abortion as a constitutional right in Tennessee. Although ultimately unsuccessful, the campaign’s efforts included mailings, phone banking, and canvassing efforts that strengthened the base of pro-choice supporters.
In 2013, the National Institute worked with Healthy & Free Tennessee to support the development and growth of the Healthy & Free Tennessee Coalition, including the creation of an organizational structure, mission, and goals.