Senator who questioned Supreme Court birth control ruling led campus group that promoted it
Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, an anti-abortion rights Republican who recently dismissed as “constitutionally unsound” a longstanding Supreme Court ruling that legalized contraception, was once the leader of an on-campus women’s group that promoted birth control.
Blackburn, whose maiden name is Wedgeworth, was president of the Associated Women Students (AWS) chapter at Mississippi State University from around April 1972 through February 1973, according to minutes of the AWS meetings that were obtained by NBC News from the university’s archives. She graduated from MSU in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in Home Economics.
During Blackburn’s tenure as president, the AWS “sponsored” a “birth control program” that was held on campus on Dec. 5 and Dec. 7, 1972, where information about contraception was provided to female students, former AWS members said.
Marie Naklie, who preceded Blackburn as AWS president, said such programs were “more informational than anything, for women to be more aware that these issues were out there and that they were being debated.”
Blackburn’s AWS chapter also sponsored programs where hot-button issues and organizations that she has stridently opposed as senator — including abortion and Planned Parenthood — were presented and debated, former AWS members said. AWS was a student government association founded in 1913.