On Election Day, Tennessee voters will be asked to do something very unusual: Amend the state constitution to eliminate all protections for abortion, including in cases of rape, incest and when a woman’s life is in danger.
The ballot initiative “Amendment 1” is the culmination of more than a decade of plotting by anti-abortion advocates, who are finally ready to strike. It says:
“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.”
The amendment itself doesn’t impose a new law, so it cannot be challenged in federal court. But it wipes out all state protections for abortion, paving the way for Tennessee Republicans — who control the governor’s mansion and enjoy massive majorities in the legislature — to enact restrictive abortion laws.
I have a few questions: If Amendment 1 passes and the state legislature bans any form of abortion, who will pay for the care of the child who is born from a rape or incest, or will the mother be forced to be reminded every day of the crime for the rest of her life? What if the mother dies or is incapacitated from the pregnancy? Who will provide for the care of a child that is born with a horrendous birth defect and may be incapable of any kind of meaningful life? Who will provide for the care of the women who are brutalized by this law, and how many women in Tennessee will die because of it? I don’t see any language in the amendment about that.
Unwanted or dangerous pregnancies happen no matter what happens in the courts or in the legislature, and the human body doesn’t pay attention to the voters or the screeching of misogynist religious fanatics. Abortion is a reality, and no amount of political pressure or Jesus-shouting fear mongering will change that.
As Steve Bates puts it, “This isn’t about religion and this isn’t about the fetus. These people hate women.”