Tennessee’s new pro-life amendment will help it overcome status as abortion destination
Bolstered by a grassroots pro-life effort, Tennessee voters passed a constitutional amendment in Tuesday’s election that will allow the state to better protect its pregnant mothers and cease it from being the third-largest out-of-state abortion destination in the nation.
Amendment 1 passed with the support of nearly 53 percent of the state’s electorate despite supporters being outspent by abortion proponents by more than two to one, according to the Yes on Amendment 1 campaign’s webpage.
"We are grateful to God and to the good people of Tennessee for this victory," Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life and a coordinator for Yes on 1, said in a statement provided to LifeSiteNews. "Despite millions of abortion dollars flooding our airwaves with deceptive ads, the people of Tennessee saw through the falsehoods and made their voices heard."
The Yes on 1 campaign raised and spent $1.5 million in contrast to at least $4 million reported by Planned Parenthood's "NO" campaign, Harris said, and 16 abortion facilities in Tennessee and across the country contributed a total of $3.5 million in a combined effort to defeat the pro-life amendment.
A 2000 Tennessee Supreme Court decision struck down regulations in the state, including a two-day waiting period, a requirement that a mother be fully informed about abortion, and a requirement that second-trimester abortions be performed in a hospital.
The state’s high court, which had deemed the existing law “overly burdensome” to women, left Tennessee to be a target for out-of-state abortions.
Tennessee’s eight surrounding states have laws requiring informed consent, waiting periods, and state health regulation of abortion facilities, drawing people to Tennessee for unregulated abortion. It is third in the nation for percentage of out-of-state abortions, with, for example, almost one-fourth of all abortions committed in Tennessee during 2010 being performed on mothers from out-of-state.
The amendment reads:
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.
State lawmakers are looking for abortion legislation to introduce in the next session, according to NBC affiliate WBIR, including clinic regulation and waiting periods, but it would be limited in scope and certainly not eliminate abortion in Tennessee.
Harris credits Amendment 1’s passage to a statewide grassroots campaign that relied heavily on volunteers and smaller financial contributions from individuals, churches, and pro-life organizations.
"We recognized that we would never have the financial resources of the abortion industry so began planning long ago to build a team of advocates who could educate and organize their local communities," he said in the statement to LifeSiteNews.
The effort paid off, he said, especially in rural areas of the state where volunteers raised funds and awareness of both Amendment and the 2000 State Supreme Court ruling.
Harris gave special credit to clergy and religious leaders throughout Tennessee who made support for the amendment a priority.
"In the end this could be characterized as pastors and pulpits in opposition to Planned Parenthood's abortion-profiteering,” Harris said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to men and women of faith who refused to accept Tennessee's designation as an abortion destination and who actively used their influence to promote the protection of innocent human life."
Abortion legislation passed in the next session is expected to go into effect July 1.