Beth Foster, co-director of the Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center at St. Andrews, was among the speakers as hundreds of women and their supporters gathered in Nashville yesterday on the first day of the 2015 General Assembly.
The Women’s March on Nashville was designed to push back on potential laws restricting access to abortion in Tennessee and to call on legislators to pass laws that meet the needs of women and families in the state.
Below is a transcript of what Beth said at the rally before the Women’s March on Nashville.
While I am honored to be here with my sisters and brothers to stand for the equality of all people, I’m angry that I have to be here.
The right to make decisions about my body should never have been put up for a vote.
The right to make decisions about my body does not belong to a male-dominated government entity.
The right to make decisions about my body is mine and mine alone.
The fact that we have to march, rally and protest to demand what is ours infuriates me.
I remember our sisters who marched for suffrage — to be acknowledged as something more than the property of a man, to have a voice, to have a vote, to participate. I remember their struggle and the struggles of generations of women after them. And, again, I am infuriated.
I am infuriated that despite their struggle, I still live in a world where one in three women will suffer domestic violence and sexual assault.
I am infuriated that I still live in a country where an average of three women a day are killed by their husbands or boyfriends.
But, most of all, I am infuriated that I live in state where my right, my decision, my reproductive choices were put up for a vote — where in essence, my very person hood was put on the ballot, and it was decided that I, along with all the other women of Tennessee, are not equal people under the laws of Tennessee.
Despite everything we have to be angry about, however, I do have hope.
I have hope because of the brave activists and organizers who worked so hard against Amendment 1, which was defeated in Hamilton County thanks to their work. I have hope as I see people of faith saying reproductive justice is as a demand of their morality. I have hope with the opening of our Justice and Peace Center in Chattanooga, a ministry of the Presbytery of East Tennessee. The Justice and Peace Center is devoted to working at the intersections of all oppression to create the World As It Should Be — a world in which all humans are equal and all of creation is free.
I find hope in all of you.
Despite the fact that you shouldn’t have to be here, you are here. We are here to take back what is ours. We have a lot of work to do in creating that World As It Should Be, but we are here and we will create it.