Amendment 1 Could Give Legislators Power to Regulate Abortion

Campaign posters at the Republican Party Headquarters off Murfreesboro Square. Photo by Max Smith News Editor MTSU Sidelines

Amendment 1 is one of the potential laws up for vote during the November 4 elections in Tennessee. The amendment handles the way Tennessee legislation handles abortion from a legal standpoint.

Voting “Yes on 1” would enter a text into the state’s constitution noting “nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion,” from the Tennessee Government website and Sen. Tre Hargett.

While the amendment would not change Tennessee abortion laws themselves, it would open up the possibility for future changes to Tennessee code by neutralizing past rulings by the state Supreme Court that have found abortion laws unconstitutional.

Tennessee’s Supreme Court’s history of siding with women’s rights to privacy and “procreative autonomy” has led to Tennessee having the least strict abortion laws in the South, which in turn has given the state some of the highest numbers of abortions by out-of-state residents in the nation.

According to data collected in 2010 by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 24.5 percent of abortions in Tennessee were performed on patients from another state. Only North Dakota, Kansas and the District of Columbia registered higher numbers.

By mentioning rape, incest and life-threatening childbirths, three common circumstantial exceptions to abortion criminality, the text of the amendment shows that the freedom afforded to pro-life legislators drafting new abortion statutes is unlimited, theoretically extending into territory that would be federally unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade.

Voting “No on 1” would maintain a status quo in which legislators may be barred from drafting bills that reflect the opinions and wants of their constituents in a state that remains strongly conservative and Christian.

To contact Max Smith, email

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