Abortion battle heats up across Tennessee

Staff Reports • Updated Nov 12, 2013 at 5:53 PM

As the calendar nears the New Year, new battles are being waged over abortion both locally and nationally. 

In the U.S. Senate, a bill was introduced that seeks a nationwide ban on abortion after 20 weeks. 

Steven Emmert, chief operating officer of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, said the proposal is unconstitutional and unneeded, since only about 1 percent of procedures are done that late.

“So we’re talking about a few rare cases,” he said. “And for most abortions that occur after 20 weeks, it’s often due to medical issues or tragic complications that were just discovered.”

The legislation is from Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who’s calling on leaders to allow a vote before the midterm elections in 2014. The House passed a similar bill earlier this year.

In Tennessee, Emmert said he hopes voters will say no when they go to the polls next November to vote on Amendment 1. Passage would grant the state Legislature the power to create abortion laws.

“To allow the General Assembly to enact any regulation and restriction they want on abortion,” he said. “And it basically takes away a woman’s privacy rights that currently are in the state Constitution.”

Those who support Amendment 1 say legislators should set abortion policy for Tennessee, not the courts.

Recently, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar from TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” visited Smith County to kick off a campaign supporting Amendment 1. 

“Most states acknowledge the need to give women vital information about the seriousness of their decision before they take the life of their baby,” Michelle Duggar said. “Tennessee does not even require parental consent, counseling beforehand, having a waiting period to think about it, or have minimal clinical standards. Veterinarian clinics for animals in Tennessee have higher standards in health and safety laws than there are for the abortion clinics involving human life. We must join together and end the baby holocaust that is taking place right here in Tennessee.”

The event, held one year prior to election day, also included speaker Alveda King, niece of the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

John Michaelson with Public News Service contributed to this report. 

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