How UTK Students Can Access Resources for Reproductive Health

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Hear from Ayva Dorris from UTK's Planned Parenthood Generation Action Council about resources on campus and the significance of Planned Parenthood. 

In June 2022, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, a historic court case that granted women the right to having an abortion. 

13 states, including Tennessee, had trigger laws set in place at the time.  Trigger laws are defined as laws that are passed, but will only go into effect once a certain event catalyzes it. 

The “trigger laws” set in place meant that once Roe vs. Wade was overturned, abortion would be outlawed in Tennessee thirty days later. As abortion was made illegal in Tennessee, Clinch Avenue Clinic, the last reproductive health center and abortion clinic, was shut down. 

Planned Parenthood has been a health clinic that has been known for its contribution to abortion, sexual health and family planning. Knoxville’s Planned Parenthood clinic was burned down on December 31, 2021. 

The fire was an act of arson made by Mark Reno from Jefferson County. 

Despite efforts to shut down and suppress reproductive justice and health organizations, many organizations still fight for reproductive health. 

I talked with Ayva Dorris of the University of Tennessee’s Planned Parenthood Generation Action Council about their organization as well as the resources that Planned Parenthood can give to students and what a student can do about supporting reproductive health and justice in Knoxville. 

“We represent the goals and values of Planned Parenthood by advocating for reproductive freedom and social justice on campus,” Dorris said. 

Planned Parenthood Generation Action Council fights for reproductive rights through proper use and access of contraceptives. 

“I hope that this organization will aid any student that is seeking to exercise their reproductive rights, whether it be helping them figure out how to get on birth control, getting access to a plan B, giving them a condom or even just a pad/tampon,” Dorris said. 

Compared to other health services provided on campus, Planned Parenthood’s Generation Action Council provides a wider variety of contraceptives and resources for safer sex. 

“We offer a more diverse variety of contraceptives than other campus services, such as dental dams and female condoms. We also offer pregnancy tests and plan B,” Dorris said.

If a student would want to obtain resources for reproductive health services or contraceptives, they can reach out to either Dorris or Allie Farley, and they can connect them to other organizations that provide those resources. 

“We can help connect you to Knoxville’s Planned Parenthood. Knoxville also has several lesser known Women’s Health Clinics. I would advise students to do a quick google search to fully see all the options in their surrounding area,” Dorris said. 

Students who wish to get involved in fighting for reproductive health and justice should keep up with UTK’s Planned Parenthood Generation Action Council through meetings, events or social media. 

“We post a lot about how we are actively advocating as well as adjacent organizations in Knoxville, some on campus, some not,” Dorris said.  

To Dorris, reproductive health and Planned Parenthood is more than just helping people gain access to abortions. It is more about the health and rights of all people. To Dorris, reproductive rights also means fighting for people to gain reproductive health without discrimination. 

“Fighting for reproductive rights means that the fight is not over until every individual has equal access to reproductive healthcare of all kinds. No matter their race, gender, sexual orientation or class,” Dorris said. 

Dorris also highlighted how Planned Parenthood and other organizations fight for access to reproductive health. 

“Planned Parenthood as well as many other reproductive health organizations often aid minority and low income communities in getting access to reproductive health because several laws regarding reproductive health are written in a way that makes it nearly impossible for these communities to exercise their reproductive rights…

For example, “Noise for Now” is a nonprofit organization that holds concerts that help fund individuals seeking reproductive healthcare but can’t afford it,” Dorris said.

Dorris then spoke about how Planned Parenthood provided a safe, non-discriminatory place for reproductive healthcare. 

“Planned Parenthood means a safe space to me personally, I know that I can seek unprejudiced care, contact information or simply advice by utilizing their facilities,” Dorris said. 

Students can find additional resources and events on @utkgenact on Instagram, where Dorris and Farley post about available resources and events around UTK’s campus.  

UTK’s Planned Parenthood Generation Action Council provides resources and education for students who wish to obtain access to reproductive and sexual health.