A coalition of local doctors is urging Tennesseeans to vote no on Amendment 1, an anti-abortion ballot measure that one doctor called “a setback for women’s rights.”

During a press conference at a Planned Parenthood facility in Nashville last week, one obstetrician-gynecologist warned that Amendment 1 would give politicians the right to make medical decisions they aren’t qualified to make.

“Supporting Amendment 1 will erode a woman’s fundamental right to autonomous decision-making and privacy regarding her own health care,” Dr. Deborah Webster-Clair, a retired OB/GYN, said. “Politicians should not be interfering in personal medical decisions when they do not understand the medical basis of those decisions or the physical, emotional or economic impact of each individual pregnancy,” she added.

Amendment 1 would change the Tennessee state constitution to declare that there is no right to abortion in Tennessee – even in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. If passed, the Amendment would give the state legislature even more room to create far-reaching restrictions on abortion access, even for women in the most tragic circumstances. In addition, Amendment 1 could restrict access to certain forms of birth control, like emergency contraception and IUDs, that some state politicians, contrary to respected medical information, claim are abortifacients.

“As a physician, I can tell you that there is no one-size-fits-all kind of answer to medical care,” Dr. Roger Young said. “Care has to be customized, individualized to each individual person, each individual circumstance.”Amendment 1, however, opens the door to legislation that could endanger women’s health by preventing doctors from providing appropriate medical care.

This is not the first time the medical community has voiced opposition to a ballot measure that would allow politicians to determine women’s reproductive healthcare. The North Dakota Medical Association, which represents North Dakota doctors, has urged voters in that state to vote no on Measure 1, a proposed personhood amendment that would change the state constitution to provide an “inalienable right to life” at “any stage of development” – including the moment of fertilization and conception. If passed by North Dakota voters this November, it will be the first personhood amendment to take hold in the United States, giving fertilized eggs more rights than women in the state, banning abortion and birth control, and outlawing in vitro fertilization.

Early voting in Tennessee began on October 15 and runs to October 30. Early voting in North Dakota takes place from October 27 to October 31. Election Day is November 4. There is no voter registration in North Dakota, but an ID is required.

Media Resources: The Tennesseean 10/22/14; Tennessee Secretary of State; Feminist Newswire 10/17/14; Vote No on Measure 1; Feminist Newswire 10/21/14; North Dakota Secretary of State

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