Tennessee: Yes or No? Voters decide abortion regulations

(This is an excerpt from my story in the Times-Gazette.)

By JASON REYNOLDS

Murder. A woman’s right to control her body. Right to life. A woman’s body. Pro-choice. Pro-life. A baby’s life. Yes on 1. No on 1.

There are many terms associated with abortion, and which ones you use depend on which side you support. Voters on both sides of the debate will have a chance to have their say in the general elections. Early voting starts today, and election day is Nov. 4.

Supreme Court ruling

There are four proposed state constitutional amendments on the ballot. Proposed amendment No. 1 would allow the Legislature to change abortion rules. Those rules changed in 2000 and 2002. In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned by a 4-1 vote many of the state’s abortion regulations in a decision called Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist. Another suit in 2002 struck down a state requirement that clinics had to be licensed and regulated.

Voting yes on 1 would allow Tennessee legislators to tighten abortion regulations while a no vote would leave abortion regulations alone.

Nearly 25 percent of abortions in Tennessee are performed on women and girls from out of state, according to Yes on 1.

Abortion safety

Pro-life advocates focus not only on the life of the child but on the safety of the abortion clinics as well.

“Half the facilities are not licensed or inspected by the state health department,” said Katy Brown, director of church outreach of Yes on 1, an initiative headed up by Tennessee Right to Life.

A woman’s choice

One local woman says she wants the government to stay out of people’s bedrooms.

“A woman has a right to protect her body or to do with her body as she wants,” said Wanda Campbell, wife of Tom Campbell, chairman of the Bedford County Democratic Party. “A man has the right to do with his body as he wants.”

Should voters decide?

But Brown, a Bell Buckle resident, said a yes vote would be a matter of men and women providing their input into the abortion debate.

“Four Supreme Court justices decided abortion policies for all of Tennessee,” Brown said. “Yes on amendment one would put the policies back in the hands of Tennesseans. Tennessee is very much a pro-life state, but Tennessee now is third in the nation for out-of-state abortions,” because of the 2000 court ruling, Brown said.

FOR THE REST OF THE STORY: Shelbyville Times-Gazette: Local News: Yes or No? Abortion rights rest on decision (10/15/14).

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