Her state denied her an abortion; she goes into politics to change the law

It’s a cold, rainy Sunday morning in Clarksville, north Tennessee. In Allie Phillips’ small house, we hear only silence, sometimes brightened by the babbling of her daughter Adalie, who plays in her room. Absolutely nothing in this peaceful picture suggests the real whirlwind that the young woman’s life has become in recent months.

At 28, Allie Phillips is leading her electoral campaign to become a Democratic representative to the Tennessee House of Representatives. She launched her campaign this fall. The election will take place in just under a year.

It was never my goal to get into politicsshe says, sitting at her kitchen table. That’s not my goal. That’s Miley’s goal.

Miley is the child Allie Phillips never knew. About a year ago, Ms. Phillips became pregnant. Overjoyed, she and her husband named the fetus Miley Rose. But as she approached her 20e week into her pregnancy, her world came crashing down: a visit to the hospital told her that the fetus was not viable and that continuing the pregnancy presented risks to her health.

But impossible to obtain an abortion. Tennessee is one of the states with the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country. Last February, the procedure was prohibited in all circumstances. In April, Governor Bill Lee relaxed the law slightly, allowing abortions in medical emergencies, such as after a miscarriage or when the mother’s life is in danger.

Allie Phillips’ doctor presented her with her options. She either had an abortion in another state or continued the pregnancy, although this option carried significant risks to her own health. Basically it was: play Russian roulette with your life or get an abortion.she summarizes.

With a salary of around $34,000 a year, the young woman could not afford the trip to another state. This is thanks to the help of donors who contributed to a campaign GoFundMe that she was able to pay for the procedure and the trip to New York.

When you learn that your pregnancy is not viable, you want to take time with your family, to mourn the loss of the one who will soon become your lost child… Instead, I had to call five different states and book flights and hotels.

Allie Phillips vividly remembers the feeling of despair she felt when she left the New York clinic after her abortion to return to the apartment she had rented. I looked out the car window and saw all these people walking on the sidewalks, children with their parents. The world continued to turn, while my life fell apart.

From TikTok to the political arena

In the living room, at the foot of the television, all kinds of objects are placed in happy disorder. Little pajamas, stuffed animals, ultrasound images…

All these objects were sent to me by my subscribers on TikTok, she exclaims. Because Allie Phillips’ story is irrevocably contemporary. She is one of the first young women to enter politics in a post-Roe c. Wade, the ruling that guaranteed the right to abortion throughout the United States. And she is a candidate who owes her notoriety largely to TikTok.

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In the living room, Allie Phillips has set up a corner in memory of Miley Rose. The items were sent to him by his subscribers on TikTok.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Violette Cantin

I honestly believe that without TikTok, I wouldn’t be where I am today. A user of the platform since 2020, she began documenting her life more diligently when she learned that she would have to obtain an abortion outside of Tennessee. I wanted people to know what women have to go through because of these anti-abortion laws.she says.

His videos quickly went viral. One of them gets over 3 million views. In the process, she joined a lawsuit filed against the state of Tennessee for its near-total ban on abortion.

The logical next step for Allie Phillips is to enter politics.

No one will fight for my six-year-old daughter like I will. No one will fight for me like I will. It’s my role as a mother to protect my daughter. And voting is not enough. It is not enough.

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Allie Phillips ordered jerseys with her campaign logo. The election will take place in November 2024.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Violette Cantin

Since the official announcement of her candidacy two months ago, the newcomer to politics has multiplied interviews and calls to solicit donations, while taking care of four children in her family daycare, at a rate of 55 hours per week. Which leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

This system is designed to keep people like me out of politicsshe denounces. I’m a low-income person, I don’t have a lot of free time. I don’t even have enough money to donate $25 to my own campaign.

Throughout our stay, the lights inside the house remain off. To reduce the electricity billspecifies Ms. Phillips. I understand why more people aren’t running for office. Many people literally can’t afford it.

If elected, her very first bill will be called Miley’s Law. This law will give mothers the choice to have an abortion or not if their fetus presents anomalies.

In the last election, the current elected official for District 75, Republican Jeff Burkhart, was elected unopposed in a state with an overwhelming Republican majority. Regardless, Allie Phillips is confident.

I am young, I am a woman, she says. And I have the passion and energy to make a difference.

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