All four of Tennessee’s major papers have spoken out to oppose Amendment 1, a dangerous anti-abortion measure that will be decided by voters this fall. The Tennessean, Knoxville News Sentinel, Chattanooga Times, and Commercial Appeal have all published editorials criticizing the Amendment and encouraging a “no” vote from their readers.
Amendment 1 would change the Tennessee state constitution to read: “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.”
In other words, the Amendment would open the floodgate to draconian abortion restrictions and prevent legal recourse against anti-abortion legislation.
“Making any type of law immune from a court challenge is shortsighted, prejudicial – and in the case of what should be a woman’s own decision about her health – downright dangerous,” wrote the Tennessean editorial board. “For those reasons, The Tennessean recommends a vote of NO on Amendment 1.”
“We are advocating for a woman’s right to make private, personal health care decisions, including decisions on reproductive issues, without being held to the whims of partisan politicians,” wrote the Commercial Appeal. “We urge voters to vote NO on Amendment 1.”
If passed, Amendment 1 would give state politicians the right to make decisions about the health and lives of women and take those rights away from women and their doctors. Lawmakers could use the Amendment to pass legislation that denies life-saving care to women with critical illnesses and bans abortion – even in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the health or life of the woman – as well as common forms of birth control like the pill, IUDs, and emergency contraception. The four Tennessee papers agree: Amendment 1 goes too far, especially in a state where privacy laws are some of the strongest in the nation and held dear by its residents.
“Tennesseans are a fiercely independent folk, defiantly resistant to government interference in their personal lives, especially in matters of faith and family,” wrote the Knoxville New Sentinel. “Tennesseans should reject this intrusion into the private lives of women.”
“Decisions about contraception and abortion – like decisions about Viagra and fertility treatments – should be made by a man or woman in consultation with their faith, their family and their doctors,” wrote the Chattanooga Times. “Keep Tennessee government out of your private life, and vote no on Amendment 1.”
The editorials echo the voices of 40 faith leaders in Memphis as well as the voices of student activists in the state working on the Vote No on 1 campaign, including members of Feminist Majority Foundation’s Feminist Majority Alliance groups at Vanderbilt and East Tennessee State Universities who are working to mobilize and educate voters. Students have been training fellow students on activism, encouraging students to vote, disseminating information, and staging visibility events.
“We will defeat Amendment 1,” Max Smith, ETSU’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance President, wrote for the Feminist Campus blog. “And we’ll work like heck to make sure of it.”
Early voting in Tennessee began October 15, and residents can vote early and in-person through October 30. Voters can also head to the polls on Election Day, November 4.
Media Resources: Vote No on 1 Campaign 10/19/14; The Chattanooga Times Free Press 10/12/14; Knoxville News Sentinel 10/14/14; The Tennessean 10/22/14; Feminist Campus 9/18/14, 9/24/14; Feminist Newswire 10/6/14, 10/17/14