Tags: abortion | destination | tennessee | amendment

Advocates Seek to End Tennessee's Appeal as 'Abortion Destination'

By    |   Saturday, 25 October 2014 11:20 AM

Anti-abortion advocates are trying to change laws in Tennessee, which they deride as being the "abortion destination" of the nation's Bible Belt, joining other states with a ballot measure seeking to give rights and protections to the unborn.

A state Supreme Court ruling in 2000 that decreed Tennessee's constitutional right to privacy also covered the right to have an abortion has blocked several efforts in the past to enact restrictions that have swept other conservative states in recent years, reports The New York Times.

The ruling also eliminated provisions that required a two-day waiting period, a rule that said only doctors could give informed consent to a patient, and a requirement that all abortions performed in the third trimester of a pregnancy must be done in a hospital.

Abortion foes are pinning their hopes on Amendment 1, a ballot initiative that says there is nothing in the state's constitution that "secures or protects" the right to have an abortion.

A wave of conservative anti-abortion candidates elected to the state legislature in 2010 pushed along Amendment 1, by giving a two-thirds supermajority in 2011 that the plan needed in order to be put on the ballot during the next gubernatorial election.

With the amendment, Tennessee joins Colorado and North Dakota, which are trying to restrict abortion through their own "personhood" ballot measures, an issue Colorado residents have already rejected twice.

But in Tennessee, abortion opponents have faith that their measure will pass because Democrats have little chance of getting the voters to come out for their candidate in the governor's race. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is being challenged by retired construction worker Charles Brown, who notoriously suggested Haslam should be strapped into an electric chair, reports the Times.

“When there’s no real candidate to vote for, it’s hard,” said Rebecca Terrell, the executive director of CHOICES, a Memphis abortion clinic.

Halsam is backing Amendment 1, as are many of the state's GOP-dominated government offices. Supporters say the measure will allow legislatures to bring their state into line with other nearby states and keep Tennessee's clinics from attracting outsiders. According to state health department statistics, 23 percent of the women who got abortions in Tennessee in 2013 were from outside the state.

For example, in neighboring Mississippi, there is just one abortion clinic, and women must undergo counseling and a 24-hour waiting period before obtaining the procedure.

But a woman in Memphis can be at CHOICES or the city's other abortion clinic in under a half hour, and have an abortion without counseling or a wait period.

Abortion rights advocates, though, say that legislators have enacted rulings since 2000 that include a 2012 law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Tennessee's battle on the abortion amendment has become heated, with an opposing campaign committee "Vote No on One Tennessee" raising $1.9 million, mostly through the state's two chapters of Planned Parenthood.

Meanwhile, a Yes on 1 Ballot Committee has drawn in just over $900,000, mainly from individuals, churches, and other anti-abortion groups.

The measure may not have public support, however. A Vanderbilt University poll this spring showed that 71 percent of the respondents oppose giving the state legislature the right to govern abortion issues. Further, the amendment must earn more than 50 percent of the total votes cast in the governor's race before it passes, a state law says.

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Anti-abortion advocates are trying to change laws in Tennessee, which they deride as being the abortion destination of the nation's Bible Belt, joining other states with a ballot measure seeking to give rights and protections to the unborn.
abortion, destination, tennessee, amendment
566
2014-20-25
Saturday, 25 October 2014 11:20 AM
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