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. – Amendment One, Article I, Tennessee Constitution
If the headline didn’t catch your attention, then I am unsure as to why you are even reading this article. If you voted “yes” on Amendment One, then I am unsure as to if you can even read. If that doesn’t already piss you off, keep attempting to navigate this narrative. I’m sure it will just be the beginning.
I am Republican. There… I said it. Happy now? However, I am not a Republican in the sense that I believe abortion is wrong and gay rights should be shunned. That’s just ignorant. We live in the 21st century people – get over yourself. However, my issue with Amendment One has nothing to do with abortion rights. In fact, if you read the amendment then you would find that the amendment had nothing to do with abortion rights at all. “What? What do you mean, Nikki? It has everything to do with abortion – it says so directly in the body of the amendment.” I’m telling you – Nothing. To. Do. With. Abortion. Everything. To. Do. With. Government. Control. So, congrats if you find yourself a Republican (or Democrat) voting for this because you believed abortion was the main concern and that abortion is wrong in all circumstances. In the words of the Arrow – “You have failed this city (err… state).” Let’s get to the bottom of what 53% of you voted to be an Amendment to our Tennessee Constitution.
Well, That Was Awkward…
First and foremost, I am not here to give you a background on Amendment One. You should have already read (or attempted to read) the amendment and codified the amendment’s meaning. I’m here to tell you why 53% of voters were wrong. Now, just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean that I do not still like you. It just means you might piss me off in a conversation if you ever bring up the fact that you voted “yes” on this amendment. Here we go.
Help! I Can’t Get The Government Out of My Vagina!
Read my heading again – and say thanks to my mother (who is also a Republican) for helping me with it. Now, let’s move forward with the medical changes that will occur with Amendment One’s passing. A scenario might make this narrative a little more intimate.
You are pregnant. You go to your trusted doctor for a check-up, and your doctor tells you that if you continue your pregnancy there is a 100% chance that you or your child will die during childbirth. Without Amendment One, you, your family and your doctor would have complete control over what happens from here on out – whether that be a termination of the pregnancy or not. With Amendment One, however, these personal, private medical decisions are now subject to government control. You have no say as to what occurs. If the government passes a law that is contrary to the health or life of the woman then so be it.
That scenario doesn’t bother you? How about this one:
You pull into your apartment complex after working the late shift at a grocery store. You have to park a few buildings down, as there is not enough parking near your building. As you begin walking toward your building, and unbeknownst to you, a man approaches you from behind. That person grabs your arm, throws you to the ground, and covers your mouth to avoid screaming. In the process of this violent attack, you are raped. You are scared and do not inform anyone of the rape (note: if anyone comments with “Well, she could have told someone” you are extremely ignorant). You become pregnant and go to your local physician. After informing your physician that you wish to terminate the pregnancy, you and your physician discuss termination procedures. With Amendment One, however, these personal, private medical decisions are now subject to government control. You have no say as to what occurs. If the government passes a law prohibiting a woman who has been raped from terminating a pregnancy then you must carry that pregnancy to term.
After re-reading the above section, I am crying. Reread the language of Amendment One. You (if you are apart of the 53%) just handed over ALL control to the government. Exceptions for health and welfare of the woman, incest, and rape are not covered in this amendment – they are fair game for the legislators to twist and turn. I do not see how the voters in Tennessee could allow this Amendment to pass where a woman’s rights are so freely handed over to the government for control. If you voted “yes” then you believe there should be no exceptions for abortion whatsoever – and for that I am appalled at your judgment. Medical concerns, however, are not the only issue with Amendment One. Let’s move on.
Oh, You Thought You Deserved Privacy? That Doesn’t Exist Anymore.
Notwithstanding medical records, privacy is at issue with Amendment One. The Tennessee Supreme Court previously ruled that certain abortion restrictions violated privacy rights under the Tennessee Constitution. These restrictions hindered the ability of a woman to have a safe and legal abortion. Most Amendment One supporters pushed the notion that Tennessee law does not regulate abortion procedures due to the Tennessee Supreme Court’s above ruling. However, that is not the case. Under Tennessee law, abortions are already highly regulated where it counts. Examples of such regulations include the following: (1) Mandatory reporting guidelines to the Tennessee Dept. of Health; (2) Parental consent for minors; (3) Requirements for physicians performing abortions to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals; (4) Patients have to sign a consent form prior to the procedure; (5) Abortion clinics must post conspicuous signs with specific language stating it is against the law to coerce someone into having an abortion; (6) No physician or hospital has to perform an abortion; (7) Medicare will not pay for abortions, and the state will not fund them (unless the pregnancy resulted from rape, incest, or the health and welfare of the mother is at stake).
Amendment One allows regulation of the following areas: (1) Mandatory waiting period to give the woman “time to think” about the procedure; (2) Requirement that doctors give women specifically worded information about abortions and fetal development – not crafted by the doctors themselves, but crafted by lawmakers; (3) A ban on abortions past a certain fetal stage of development; (4) Stricter standards of ambulatory surgical centers; (5) End to exceptions as mentioned previously. A few of these changes give me cause for concern – especially number 2. Allowing the legislators to craft their own legalese for use in medical facilities that is not recommended by doctors or medical staff seems to be a bit of an overreach. Have you read Obamacare? Probably not. Well, go read that (and the proposed regulations), and then let me know if you want legislators to craft legislation without medical review.
In short, Amendment One strips the private, personal medical discussions you have between you and your doctor. It also allows the government (not your doctor) to control your decisions regarding those medical decisions. Say goodbye to physician-patient privilege and hello to the physician-patient-government triangle of despair.
Why You Should Have Voted “No” On Amendment One..Even If You Are Pro-Life
Amendment One hands our private decisions to lawmakers and allows these lawmakers to interpret and define laws on our behalf. This law does not have to stop at abortions – you can apply it to anything considered “private.” I’m not sure that passing laws such as the one related to Amendment One would really make abortions safer. It seems that the legislators just want to make it harder for women to gain access to abortions which is control in and of itself. Control over waiting times – which limit the access of abortions to those that need to take off of work or travel far distances. Control over documents provided for consent in waiting rooms – which limit doctor-patient confidentiality and the doctor’s ability to provide truthful information about the procedure to a patient. Control over women’s rights – it is a woman’s choice as to what happens with her body, not a legislator’s poorly crafted language.
This legislation was pretty well-crafted, in that it was extremely deceptive to both the Republican and Democratic parties. The law was something that allowed for government oversight (which Democrats love and Republicans loathe) for an issue that is a hot-button social topic of regulating abortion (which Republicans love and Democrats loathe). I’m not shocked that the vote turned out the way it did – I am more shocked that my fellow Republicans (and even some Democrats) could not read more deeply into this law. It is an overreach of government and allows the government to hold the power over regulating our private decisions. Not just our private decisions, but a woman’s private decisions. As a woman,this is what shocks me the most.
Who decides what is best for a woman’s health? The woman herself? The woman’s doctor? Not according to Amendment One. According to Amendment One, the Tennessee government is the best at deciding a woman’s reproductive care. Legislators need not consult physicians or medical personnel in coming to a decision on changes to the abortion law. So, next time you have a personal, private medical question don’t bother asking your doctor. All of that medical school business was for nothing. I recommend that you call your friendly neighborhood legislator the next time you need a personal, private medical question answered. I’m sure that with the vast knowledge Amendment One supporters believe our legislators have on the issue of abortion, that Tennessee legislator will have an answer to your medical question no matter the concern. If you think I am crazy, then you should have voted “no” on Amendment One. If you think that’s a great idea, well then you are this country’s problem.