Amendment One and done: Town hall meeting aims to clarify constitutional amendment

by Tess Steele

Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of the Sewanee Women’s Center

To facilitate voters’ understanding of the November 4 election, a town hall meeting occurred on November 3, in the Mary Sue Cushman Room at Bairnwick Women’s Center! Five panelists, including Professor Paige Schneider of the Politics department, Malcolm Richards (C’15), Michelle Howell (C’15), Katherine Telford (C’15), and Sarah Flowers (C’15), explained and discussed issues pertaining to Amendment 1.The buzz surrounding the Amendment 1 vote was characterized by a haze of confusion and misinterpretation. The panel helped clarify what constitutional changes would occur if the amendment passed. The obscure wording of the amendment required two sessions of legislation before it was approved, but such technicalities made the wording one that supported the amendment’s approval.

The town meeting clarified that the amendment would not directly alter policies, rights and access to abortion in the state of Tennessee. Even so, the amendment shifts the legislative right to an abortion from the hands of the people to the legislative body of Tennessee. This gives lawmakers in the state the ability to enforce stricter regulations upon abortion facilities. This amendment does not exclude victims of rape and incest, or cases where the mother’s life is in danger. Additionally, further restrictions could be put upon women’s rights to an abortion. Such regulations would have to be approved, but nonetheless the amendment makes it possible for legislatures to change abortion rights. The regulations being referred to include informed consent and a 24 hour waiting period between the information period and the operation. While regulations on medical procedures are important for patient safety, it should be noted that the abortion safety rate is 99.994%. This statistic means that women are 1300% more likely to die in childbirth.

According to the Wall Street Journal, issues in Tennessee regarding abortion arose in the early 2000s, with anti-abortion proponents supporting the movement the state’s constitution explicitly denying abortion rights. Amendment One passed on November 4, with the unofficial results yielding a 53%-47% voting breakdown. The implications of this amendment, if any, will only reveal themselves over time.