Concerned residents gathered Saturday morning, February 1, to learn about grassroots efforts to promote passage of pro-life Amendment 1 during the General Election this November. More than 30 advocates from Sumner, Robertson, Wilson, Smith and Macon counties gave up their Saturday schedules to hear from speakers including state legislators Mark Pody and Mae Beavers. Beavers served as prime Senate sponsor of the proposed amendment during its final passage by the Tennessee Legislature in 2011.
Having met the required series of legislative votes to be placed on the ballot in 2014, Tennessee voters will now have the opportunity to approve language which would restore the ability of the people to decide what restrictions---if any---ought to be placed on the practice of abortion in Tennessee. The amendment was brought in response to the 2000 ruling by the Tennessee Supreme Court which claimed a broader, more fundamental right to abortion than even the federal right established under Roe v Wade. As a result, Tennessee lawmakers are largely prevented from deciding state abortion legislation and existing protective policies have been struck down as violating the state Constitution.
“Without basic regulation of abortion practice and facilities in our state, Tennessee has sadly become an abortion destination,” said Beavers. Recent numbers from the Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH) document that nearly 25% of abortions being performed in Tennessee are sought by women and girls residing outside of the state. According to the TDOH, 15,859 abortions were reported in Tennessee during 2012. 3,737 of those were by women and girls living in another state.
Policies struck down by the Court’s ruling in 2000 include informed consent provisions for women and girls considering abortion and a requirement that abortion facilities in Tennessee be licensed, inspected and regulated by the Tennessee Department of Health. “A yes vote on Amendment 1 will restore the ability of Tennesseans to enact and enforce common sense protections that guarantee the health and safety of Tennessee’s women,” according to Pam Chaffin , a participant at Saturday’s meeting. Those attending the meeting are working to raise awareness throughout the area in advance of the November public vote on abortion. For more information visit www.voteyestn.org