Students in North Dakota and Tennessee are getting out the vote against anti-abortion and anti-birth control ballot measures being decided today at the polls. In both states, students and young people have been leading campaigns on the ground with the assistance of Feminist Majority Foundation National Campus Organizers.
In Tennessee, voters will be deciding on Amendment 1 – a proposed change to the Tennessee state constitution that would take away the right to abortion and give politicians the green light to enact abortion bans, even in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Students throughout the state have been educating voters on the dangerous consequences of Amendment 1, which could allow politicians to restrict access to birth control and pass laws denying life-saving treatments to pregnant women with critical illnesses like cancer.
Determined to make sure the student voice against Amendment 1 is heard, students at Vanderbilt University and Belmont University in Nashville are organizing ride shares and transporting people to the polls. Students working with the Feminist Majority Foundation at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Murfreesboro are collaborating with the MTSU NAACP to hand out flyers urging students to vote no on Amendment 1, and students at Austin Peay State Univeristy in Clarksville, near the Tennessee border with Kentucky, are engaging in visibility actions to get out the no vote.
But getting out the vote hasn’t been easy. Students at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville have reported that their Vote NO posters were torn down all over campus. And at the University of Memphis on Sunday, an anti-abortion group harassed students organizing against Amendment 1, calling female supporters “whores.” According to student reports, the harassment escalated, resulting in an altercation that left one student with a dislocated shoulder.
Feminist Majority Foundation field organizers in North Dakota, where students have been mobilizing the vote against Measure 1, a proposed personhood amendment, have reported a stream of voters at the Fargodome, where about a quarter of voters this morning were young people. Organizers braved the cold to hold up Vote NO posters visible to those driving by the Fargodome. They were greeted by voters honking their horns in support and giving the thumbs up. Over in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the mood is also upbeat, with students increasing visibility for Election Day.
If passed by North Dakota voters, Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an “inalienable right to life” for humans “at any stage of development” – including the moment of fertilization and conception. It would ban abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment, as well as some forms of birth control, and all in vitro fertilization in the state.
Media Resources: Feminist Majority Foundation; Feminist Newswire 11/3/14, 10/22/14, 10/17/14