On Nov. 4, an amendment to Tennessee’s constitution regarding abortion will appear on the ballot.
Amendment 1 states: 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 and 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.
Many advocates of the proposal stress that Amendment 1 is an attempt to bring the TN constitution back to a neutral state after the abolishment of several laws regarding abortions. These laws included a required waiting period and informed consent before receiving an abortion. Those opposed to Amendment 1, however, argue that the amendment will give far too much power to politicians when it comes to abortion.
Although the wording of Amendment 1 does not explicitly ban abortions, it has caused a shock wave among TN voters. Both “Yes on 1” and “No on 1” campaigns have surfaced throughout the state and can even be found on the Maryville College campus.
Sisters in Spirit is one campus organization that supports the “No on 1” campaign. On Oct 13, Sisters in Spirit supported a “No on 1” event at Barley’s. This event was hosted by Nina Gregg, the Blount County representative for the campaign, and provided an opportunity for students to learn more about what the amendment is trying to accomplish.
Sisters in Spirit has an additional “No on 1” event planned for Tuesday, Oct. 28 as part of women’s week. There will be a showing of a short film followed by a discussion with Nina Gregg about Amendment 1.
The organization says that their goal is simply to raise awareness about the issue on campus.
“It is a topic people don’t want to talk about, but it is our role as a group that cares about women’s issues and feminism to bring up things that are hard to talk about and to do so in a respectful way,” said Sisters in Spirit president and MC junior, Sarah-Dianne Jones.
Jones hopes that even those who do not support pro-choice are able to see the broader spectrum of issues that this amendment raises.
“It is not an abortion issue it is a privacy issue, and it does not matter where you fall on the spectrum, whether or not you think abortion is wrong,” Jones said. “It’s about not wanting politicians to make decisions for you.”
The Catholic Student Association (CSA), on the other hand, is supporting the “Yes on 1” campaign on the MC campus. CSA held an informational session in the CCM on Oct. 14. Deb Maupin, a Blount County coordinator for “Yes on 1,” spoke at the event about what Amendment 1 is proposing and why voting ‘yes’ is important. As of now, CSA does not have any additional events planned for “Yes on 1,” but they are happy with the turnout at their first event and hope to host more as the voting date draws closer.
Rachel Dunn, CSA member who helped coordinate the “Yes on 1” event, argues that Amendment 1 will protect women rather than undermine them.
“Amendment 1 will allow elected officials to pass laws to mandate abortion facilities to follow and meet common sense standards,” Dunn said.
CSA is working hard to make sure that Maryville College students are informed about Amendment 1 and what it could mean for TN. Dunn stresses that Amendment 1 is not seeking to abolish abortion but rather to create safer abortion environments.
“Women deserve the right to be informed before an abortion, feel safe in health inspected facilities, and have time to think about such a difficult decision without being pressured or coerced,” Dunn said. “Amendment 1 is a stand to mandate responsibility from abortion providers and protect vulnerable women and unborn children in Tennessee.”
Both CSA and Sisters in Spirit are examples of Maryville College clubs and organizations working to ensure that students are able to make informed decisions when voting this November. Students are encouraged to attend all events despite their political affiliation in order to understand what Amendment 1 could mean for Tennessee.