With two weeks to go in an August 7 election that includes a general election for county offices and a primary for state and federal positions, the role of women in society and the rights accorded to them are subjects that have begun looming large.
Highlighting a subject — women’s rights — that has historically been a major political focus of his, 9th District congressman Steve Cohen held a press conference at his Poplar Avenue headquarters on Monday in the company of several women who are both prominent activists in women’s issues and Cohen supporters.
“As women succeed, America succeeds,” said Cohen, who was praised by Ashley Coffield, CEO of Memphis Planned Parenthood, one of the attendees, as having an “impeccable record on reproductive health and rights issues” as “the only member of the Tennessee congressional \delegation to have a 100 percent scorecard” on issues essential to Planned Parenthood.
A day later, Deidre Malone, the Democratic nominee for Shelby County Mayor, was co-sponsor with Planned Parenthood and others, of a Kickoff Rally to oppose Constitutional Amendment 1 on the November statewide ballot, which would radically curtail the access to abortion rights in Tennessee.
"Across this country, women's reproductive rights are under attack; so we have to stand up and fight back," said Malone, a recent recipient of an endorsement from Emily's List, who promised to do what she could to "make sure that Shelby Countians vote no on this amendment."
The Kickoff event, held at the Memphis Cotton Museum on Union Avenue downtown, attracted several currently campaigning candidates, including Gordon Ball of Knoxville, candidate for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
Ball issued this statement supporting the aims of the rally and criticizing incumbent Republican Senator Lamar Alexander:
Included in the group on Monday endorsing Cohen’s candidacy for reelection were Coffield; Joan Carr of Planned Parenthood Deborah Clubb, executive director of the Memphis Area Women’s Council; Gail Tyree, pro-choice advocate and community organizer; Rebecca Terrell of Choices (Memphis Center for Reproductive Health); and former state Senators Beverly Marrero and Kathryn Bowers, longtime backers of erstwhile legislative colleague Cohen.
Several of the aforementioned were also prominent at the Tuesday Kickoff Rally.