A pro-life victory was won on Tuesday, when a federal appeals court voted to keep an amendment to Tennessee’s state constitution that denies abortion as a fundamental right.
Amendment 1, which states “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion,” was passed in 2014, but pro-abortion groups have been fighting to have it removed ever since, according to LifeNews.
Voters opposed to the amendment filed a lawsuit against it within days of its approval. When that failed, they took the matter to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The amendment passed 53% to 47%, but opponents claimed that the way the state of Tennessee counts ballots is unconstitutional and demanded a recount, says the Tennessean.
The Sixth Circuit Court finally maintained that the state’s method “was the correct interpretation of vote counting methods and that election officials vote counting methods were ‘reasonable and true.’”
A 2014 article in The Atlantic outlines the effects Amendment 1 will have.
“The General Assembly may have more flexibility to legislate what women must do in order to terminate a pregnancy, including those "resulting from rape or incest." State legislators still can't create statutes that violate federal legal standards on abortion—it can't be outlawed entirely, for example. But they will ‘almost certainly’ have a greater ability to pass restrictions on how and where women get the procedure.”
The article also quotes law professor Caroline Corbin: "People often talk about the risk of overruling Roe v. Wade. I think the narrative is more of a steady chipping away, and this is part of that trend. It's not that abortion is illegal, it's just that it becomes inaccessible. It becomes too burdensome to make two trips to your doctor. It becomes too expensive to get a mandatory ultrasound. It becomes too time-consuming to travel 150 miles—making [abortion] almost impossible to obtain for most ordinary American women."
While the article puts forth these ideas as grievances, they are small victories for life that those in the pro-life movement celebrate.
Unsurprisingly, the Tennessean states that “Amendment 1 was the most hotly contested and most expensive Tennessee ballot measure in recent year.”
Efforts to pass the amendment have been in the works since 2000—nearly two decades.
The full text of Amendment 1 is as follows:
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 or 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.
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Publication date: January 11, 2018