Does Amendment 1 ban abortion in Tennessee?


Passage of Amendment 1 in 2014 effectively made the state Constitution neutral on the question of abortion.  Abortion is not banned and remains legal across the United States due to the Roe v. Wade United States Supreme Court decision in 1973.

What is the current abortion law in Tennessee?


After passage of Amendment 1 in November of 2014, Tennessee's General Assembly restored three common-sense protections that were previously struck down: informed consent, a 48-hour waiting period and the requirement that abortion facilities be licensed and inspected by the Tennessee Department of Health.

Tennessee has historically been a national leader in the passage of protective, pro-life legislation.  Please visit Tennessee Right to Life to see current state laws regarding abortion.

Why was a constitutional amendment necessary?


With the wrong 2000 Tennessee Supreme Court finding of abortion as a fundamental right in the state Constitution, any laws passed by the legislature had to be very narrowly drafted in order to avoid being ruled unconstitutional.  As former Justice William Barker pointed out in his dissent, only by amending the Constitution could pro-life Tennesseans hope to positively influence public policy again.  (See Barker Dissent, Section II)

How does the Amendment process work?


In order to successfully amend the state constitution, a resolution must be introduced and then receive a simple majority of votes in both houses during any given two year session of the Legislature. The same resolution must then be reintroduced and passed by a 2/3 “super-majority” of legislators seated during the successive legislative session. Finally, after passing two sessions of the Legislature the language is placed on the ballot for voter approval during the next gubernatorial race. SJR 127 was passed by both the Tennessee House and Senate in 2009 and received second passage by the required 2 / 3 super-majority in 2011. As a result the language was placed on the November 2014 ballot for voter approval or rejection as Amendment 1. As with any constitutional amendment, the language had to be approved by 50% of those casting a vote in the Governor’s race plus 1.

Amendment 1 was approved on November 4, 2014 by a vote of 729,163 to 657,192.

How exactly does Amendment 1 read?


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. 

In simple words, what is the thrust of the Amendment?


Amendment 1 allows the people of Tennessee and their elected representatives to restore common sense protections for women and the unborn, including inspection and regulation of abortion facilities by the Tennessee Department of Health. 

Why isn’t it worded in more understandable terms?


The wording of this Amendment was carefully drafted by the nation’s top pro-life constitutional attorneys and organizations so that it would be compatible with what we are trying to accomplish. Each word was carefully placed so that it would enable legislation that will save the lives of unborn children and protect abortion-vulnerable mothers. Without passage of Amendment 1, Tennessee’s Constitution would have continued to be interpreted as protecting a so-called ‘state right to abortion’ and denying the opportunity to enforce common-sense pro-life protections such as informed consent for women considering abortion and regulation of the state’s abortion facilities. 

How many abortion facilities are there in Tennessee?


The following are documented as operating primarily as abortion facilities: Bristol (1) unlicensed, Knoxville (2) one is unlicensed, Nashville (2) one is unlicensed, Memphis (2). 

How many abortions are reported in Tennessee?


According to the Tennessee Department of Health, for the most recent year available (2014), there were 9,861 abortions performed on women residing in Tennessee. Additionally, 2,512 abortions were performed on women residing from outside of Tennessee bringing the total to 12,373.


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