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Tenn. Campaigns Prepare for November Battle Over Abortion Rights

July 29, 2014 — Supporters and opponents of a Tennessee ballot initiative (SJR 127) that would change the state's constitutional language regarding abortion are preparing to rapidly increase their efforts over the next few months, Nashville Public Radio reports (Allyn, Nashville Public Radio, 7/28).

Background

In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court said 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, 7/15). According to the Jackson Sun, the amendment also would impose a 24-hour waiting period before a woman could obtain an abortion, as well as new inspection and regulation requirements for abortion facilities (Manna, Jackson Sun, 7/27).

Campaign Efforts

The opposing sides of the amendment have raised almost $1 million collectively, and there are expectations that millions more will be raised.

Campaigns will involve canvassing, distributing mailers and launching advertisements. Both sides have been waiting until after the August primary to launch the campaigns, according to Nashville Public Radio (Nashville Public Radio, 7/28).

In the meantime, Director of the Vote No on One campaign and Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee President and CEO Jeff Teague said, "We've been ... getting [volunteers] trained so they can be warriors in this fight this fall" (Bruck, WRCB, 7/26).