Tennessee Republicans Want To Put Pro-Life Language In Their Constitution

A proposed amendment will take away any protection for abortions within state boundaries.

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When it comes to abortion, Tennessee lawmakers are seeking to one-up even the strictest of states [link to Missouri article] through the passage of an amendment that will take away constitutional protection for abortions. If you just said out loud to yourself, "WTF?" we're right there with you.

Officially, if passed, the amendment will read "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion." And to add insult to injury, the amendment will not make exceptions for victims of rape or incest. Essentially, this amendment will take away the abortion protection that Roe v. Wade granted women back in 1973. (Ruth is not going to be happy about this.) The amendment, simply dubbed 'Amendment 1', will have a place on the state's ballots come November. Unlike most other abortion legislation that has been passed recently, the Tennessee amendment is more all-inclusive, but at the same time, it's vague. It doesn't address a specific facet of abortion services, like a waiting period, or the medical standards of the clinic, but will rather open the door for more specific legislation of that nature to be passed. Particularly, it would allow conservative lawmakers to bring previously-struck down laws up for passage again. These include an extended waiting period after a woman's first visit to an abortion provider, a required reading of a legislature-written list of "risks" associated with abortion, and a mandate that insists all abortions post-first trimester be performed in a hospital.

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Understandably, this potential amendment makes the state's pro-choice advocates nervous. "It will basically just open the floodgates for the general assembly to pass any kind of restriction if the amendment passes," Jeff Teague, the president of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, said to Mother Jones. "We think they probably have a long list of things they're going to pass." But even though the amendment has some staunch supporters in the form of Tennessee republicans, don't be too alarmed. The likelihood that this amendment really will transform the Tennessee constitution is slim—71 percent of the state's voters oppose changing the constitution, according to an independent poll done by Vanderbilt University [link to study] this past May. Even with momentum growing for the proponents of the amendment having raised over five hundred thousand dollars in funding already to support their cause, we're hoping that the majority won't be swayed so easily.

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