The pro-life majority has voted in Tennessee. While the nation focused on the Republican wins on Tuesday night nationwide, Tennessee pro-lifers saw their own win as pro-life Amendment 1 passed with 53 percent of the vote, paving the way for a future of more stringent pro-life laws in the state.
Amendment 1 was rooted in controversy, and even pro-abortion clergy partnered with Planned Parenthood to oppose it. Amendment 1 said:
“Shall Article I, of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by adding the following language as a new, appropriately designated section:
“Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”
While the language of the amendment was not overly strong, the implications may be. USA Today pointed out in a preview of the law:
“If passed, the amendment would have no immediate effect on abortion in Tennessee. However, lawmakers would have more ability in the future to pass restrictions that the state Supreme Court has previously ruled were unconstitutional. A ‘yes’ vote would give lawmakers this ability. A ‘no’ vote would leave the state constitution unchanged.”
Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life, who worked on the Amendment 1 campaign said:
“Obviously for those of us who believe life is sacred, this was the necessary first step toward protection not only for the unborn but for women and girls who fall prey to people looking to profit from untimely or unexpected pregnancies.”
“[The] group’s next step is returning to the legislature to persuade lawmakers to restore a package of laws stricken by a 2000 state Supreme Court decision, including requiring a short waiting period for women seeking an abortion, a requirement to provide educational materials and greater regulation of abortion facilities.”
Planned Parenthood had its own opinions. Ashley Coffield, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood — Greater Memphis Region, told the paper.
“Amendment 1 is a ‘dangerous ballot measure that strips away the state’s established right to safe and legal abortion’ and vowed abortion rights supporters ‘will not stand for restrictions that serve only to create barriers to service.'”
The Atlantic noted that even though North Dakota and Colorado rejected personhood amendments Tuesday night, “what’s happening in Tennessee is part of a broader trend around the country.”
Now Amendment 1 is on the books in Tennessee, and it opens the door to more abortion restrictions.