Mother in health crisis up against abortion ban running for state office

Allie Phillips is running for Tennessee's District 75 seat this fall.

ByABC News
January 4, 2024, 10:40 AM

Allie Phillips is looking to head to Nashville and make a change when it comes to reproductive rights.

The 28-year-old Tennessee mother has been vocal online about her 2022 struggle to get an abortion after doctors discovered severe medical complications with her unborn daughter Miley Rose that also jeopardized Phillips' life.

Phillips is now running for Tennessee's District 75 state House seat as a Democrat and has made reproductive rights a top priority.

PHOTO: Allie Phillips speaks with ABC News Live.
Allie Phillips speaks with ABC News Live.
ABC News

Phillips, who was featured in Impact x Nightline's episode "On the Brink" spoke with ABC News Live's Linsey Davis about her story and her campaign.

ABC NEWS LIVE: You started posting about your pregnancy journey with your thousands of TikTok followers back in 2022 as you and your husband excitedly were preparing to welcome your baby girl. But then, at your 19-week visit, doctors found severe anomalies with Miley. So severe, in fact, that both of your lives were at risk. Tell us what happened then and why you were denied an abortion.

ALLIE PHILLIPS: So, like you said, my husband and I were very excited to find out that we were expecting and we were told at my routine anatomy scan that there were multiple fetal anomalies that were discovered and that we needed to go see a high-risk specialist to get further testing. And at that high-risk doctor, we found out that pretty much every major organ in Miley's body did not form as expected and was not working properly, and that the longer I stayed pregnant, the higher risk my health would become and that she was not compatible with life outside of the womb.

And, if I chose to stay pregnant, we were essentially waiting, playing the waiting game of when is she going to pass and how; either she's going to pass in utero or she's going to pass outside the womb. And when asked what our options were, the doctor looked at us and said, "You can choose to terminate. But due to Tennessee's ban on abortion, you cannot do that here. You would have to look out of state." And so that's when it really kind of weighed heavy on us, knowing that if I chose to stay pregnant, I was putting my life at risk.

I have a 6-year-old daughter here that I need to live for. So choosing to stay pregnant wasn't the option for us. Termination was going to be the safest and most effective route for me and my family. And knowing that we now had this journey ahead of us, it was devastating.

ABC NEWS LIVE: You posted about one of your most vulnerable moments sitting on the floor in New York City when you found out that Miley didn't have a heartbeat. What was it like to have to leave the state of Tennessee and fly to New York for care?

PHILLIPS: I was angry. I was traumatized. I was confused, like, why me? And, in that moment in New York City, my husband flew up there with me. But the clinic I went to is a patient-only clinic, so he wasn't allowed to be there with me. And so, when I found out that she was deceased, I had to call and tell my husband over the phone that our daughter was gone.

And I've never felt more alone in my life than being in a foreign city around doctors I've never met, by myself in a hallway just finding out that my daughter was gone. It was the most devastating and traumatic experience I think I've ever been through.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Prior to that trauma, had you ever considered running for political office?

PHILLIPS: Never. Politics was never something I saw myself doing. I thought I was doing my due diligence by going out and voting in every election. Running for office….I would say you were crazy, if you would have told me that I would be a political candidate. It just, for me, felt like the right thing to do.

As a mother, it's my job to make sure that my daughter is safe and taken care of and advocating and voting isn't enough in these deep red states.

PHOTO: Allie Phillips’ fetus had multiple lethal anomalies, but she was unable to get care Tennessee because of its ban.
Allie Phillips’ fetus had multiple lethal anomalies, but she was unable to get care Tennessee because of its ban.
Brandon Thibodeaux for ABC News

I have to be in one of those seats, and even though if I can flip my seat blue, we are still going to be a super majority GOP. But that's just a little bit closer to getting us to have a voice at the table.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Before running for office, you tried to contact your local representative, Republican Jeff Burkhart. He met with you for a couple of hours. My understanding is that things didn't go according to plan. What happened after your meeting?

PHILLIPS: So, after my meeting, funny enough, I sent him a text message thanking him for his time and allowing me to share my story with him. And in my text message, I jokingly said, "Who knows, maybe one day I'll run against you. LOL. Just kidding." I reached out to him a couple more times since our meeting in June last year and he said he would help me get my idea, my bill, to the legislator, and that hasn't happened. And so I figured, why wait around and wait for a man to help me when I can do it myself?

PHOTO: Allie Phillips speaks with ABC News Live.
Allie Phillips speaks with ABC News Live.
ABC News

ABC NEWS LIVE: When you mention that bill, tell us specifically about Miley's Law and what it aims to do.

PHILLIPS: Yeah. So Miley's Law, in short, in simple terms, would be giving choice back to parents when diagnosed with fetal anomalies. It doesn't have to be fatal fetal anomalies, just fetal anomalies in general. It should be up to the parents what happens next, [and] how they decide moving forward, whether that be termination or continuing their pregnancy.