This electoral season has featured one now famous argument: whether or not Amendment 1 should be passed. Because there is so much back and forth going on between the supporters and opposers of Amendment 1, the facts of the amendment seem to have become lost in translation. With election day just around the corner, everyone should be clear on what exactly Amendment 1 says and why it is not a good choice for the women of Tennessee.
The wording of Amendment 1 is ambiguous and has led to much confusion as to what exactly would happen should it be passed. Amendment 1 states as follows:
“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.”
At first glance, it would seem to be something that would protect women’s rights. But in actuality, it doesn’t. Simply put, Amendment 1 states that Tennessee legislators would have to right to pass any law they want involving abortion, with the exception of an outright ban. Our legislators would be able to restrict women’s access to safe abortions at will, even in cases of rape, incest or endangerment of the woman’s life. Considering the fact that many Tennessee legislators are people who cannot conceive nor are likely to be in position where they might need to consider having an abortion, this law would be taking away the ability to choose from those who need said ability and handing it over to people who do not.
Supporters of Amendment 1 have made claims that the amendment would help “safeguard” the health of a woman by imposing and enforcing regulations on clinics that provide abortions. While this may seem like a good thing, it opens the door to regulations that have already been found to be either unnecessarily harsh, restrictive and/or unconstitutional. In addition to this, Tennessee clinics are already being regulated and are inspected on a yearly basis. Physicians who provide abortion are held to the same standards as physicians who work in hospitals. In 2012, legislators passed a law requiring clinics that provide abortions to have the same admitting privileges as hospitals. Amendment 1 would not be needed for this purpose.
Another claim supporters have made is that Amendment 1 would bring back “common sense” regulations that would make Tennessee a “neutral ground” on the issue of abortion. The term “common sense regulations” reads very much like a euphemism for the word “restrictions.” Placing restrictions on access to abortion would not make Tennessee a “neutral” ground for the issue of abortion; it would make it an hostile one.
In short, Amendment 1 does not protect women’s health or right to choose. It puts Tennessee clinics and physicians under a microscope while simultaneously making decisions for women.