Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent those of Maryville College or the Highland Echo staff.
Tennessee voted and Amendment 1 has passed.
I’d like to take a moment to reflect on what the amendment means for women and children in this state and what the actual wording of the referendum entails. For the past few weeks, I have been bombarded from all sources of media on the fact that I should vote yes or vote no on this amendment. There have been signs everywhere and even some signs that were, in my opinion, inappropriately placed outside of local elementary schools prior to Election Day. I acknowledge that a number of these schools are used as voting places, but it is clear that not representing both sides of an argument on such a morbid topic in an area that is a safe place for children disturbs me on multiple levels.
The reason I find this referendum on Amendment 1 so appalling is the blatant wording and what that means for voters who voted for or against it. The wording that was on the ballot is as follows:
“Shall Article I, of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by adding the following language as a new appropriately designated section: Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects the 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, circumstance of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother. “
I’m deeply unnerved by this for many reasons. I feel as though subjecting a woman to the birth of a child resulting from rape is wrong on many levels. And while someone may argue that if she can safely give birth, she can just give the child up for adoption or put the child in foster care, forcing a victim to birth a child, to be reminded on a daily basis of the trauma she has already undergone and to then add a deeper emotional burden on top of this simply because some people think that potential for life is much more important than a woman’s life is something I see no logic in.
Then the child goes into foster care. I fail to see how forcing life and then discarding it into state’s custody is just. For those who voted yes, should you not be willing to then take in these children as your own and raise them? The amount of children in state custody is overflowing, and there are no homes for them. I have family members who have gone through the system as children and were constantly moved from home to home due to abuse they suffered or because the environment the state deemed safe turned out to be the opposite.
Furthermore, I am upset because it is clear that many, while it was a closer vote in some counties than others, have voted in favor of the potential for life instead of the woman’s life. When the referendum reads, “or when necessary to save the life of the mother,” it means to set more limits upon the current restrictions. There are already restrictions and regulations in place for abortion procedures in Tennessee. More Tennesseans would rather see in what would be in some situations the mother die than abort the child who may die as well. No life is better than one.
And what does it mean by “mother”? I have to hope that the majority of people did not think of every conceivable circumstance where someone may find themselves pregnant, but how could they not when the language is so plain? What if someone’s situation involved all of the above? What if they were a minor? I can’t help but feel as though Tennessee has voted to martyr women and possible children, in extreme and ill-fated cases, who are already alive against their will in the hopes of establishing some misguided sense of “moral justice”.
As a woman who will be effected by this, I don’t feel as though my state legislators or my fellow Tennesseans have my or any woman’s health, safety or life in mind. This does not even begin to touch the multitude of issues that will now arise once further legislation is passed. And for those who decided to vote yes and “speak for those who have no voice”, as one sign put it, did you ever stop to think about how many of these children will be born premature or with complications and may live only a short amount of time in pain? Did you stop to think that maybe someone you know or even you may have chosen a worse fate for the mother and child by voting yes?