July 15, 2014 — Abortion-rights supporters and opponents in Tennessee have both set fundraising goals of millions of dollars in a battle over a state ballot initiative (SJR 127) that would decrease abortion-rights protections in Tennessee's constitution, the Tennessean reports (Wadhwani, Tennessean, 7/13). State residents will vote on the ballot measure in November.
In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court found that the state constitution guarantees women in the state a fundamental right to abortion. The judges in their opinion wrote, "A woman's right to terminate her pregnancy is a vital part of the right to privacy guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution."
If it passes in November, Amendment 1 would amend the state constitution to include the statement, "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion" (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/11).
Abortion-rights advocates behind the Vote No on One campaign have set a fundraising goal of about $4 million and have raised more than $360,000 in the past six months, according to the Tennessean.
Most of the money has come from Planned Parenthood affiliates and other abortion-rights groups both inside and outside the state, including $175,000 from Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, $50,000 from Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest in Seattle and $35,000 from the American Civil Liberties Union, along with a dozen individual contributions that ranged from $200 to $1,000.
Vote No on One Campaign Director and Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee CEO Jeff Teague said, "We know from conversations we've had with national donors and other Planned Parenthood affiliates that people are very concerned about what's happening in the South, where we have seen really draconian laws passed in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama."
Meanwhile, abortion-rights opponents with the Yes on 1 campaign have set a fundraising goal of $2.1 million and have raised more than $518,000, according to disclosure forms filed last week with the state. Much of the money came from a $250,000 fundraiser headlined by Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R) last fall (Tennessean, 7/13).