Thank you for the article about Amendment One in the January 29 edition of the Macon County Times. It was well written and timely. Educating people about the facts surrounding the issue of abortion in Tennessee is vital.
Because the public needs to have a clear understanding of this amendment in order to vote intelligently on it, I would like to address the comments expressed by Mr. David Harper as reported in the Times.
In regard to Mr. Harper’s assessment of whether or not Tennessee is an abortion destination, let us consider some statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010 (the latest year for which statistics are currently available) the states surrounding Tennessee reported the following percentages for out-of-state abortions: North Carolina, 18.3%; Virginia, 7.1%; Kentucky, 12.6%; Missouri, 8.6%; Arkansas, 13.1%; Mississippi, 2.0%; Alabama, 16.5%; and Georgia, 10.2%. Tennessee exceeds them all at 24.5%—nearly one quarter of abortions performed in Tennessee are on out-of-state women.
Nationwide, the Volunteer State is surpassed in the percentage of out-of-state abortions by only two of the forty-six reporting states—Kansas, 49.8%, and North Dakota, 31.2% (CDC.gov, Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2010). Certainly our state can rightly be referred to as an abortion destination.
The second issue discussed by Mr. Harper which I would like to address is the role of the legislature were Amendment One to pass. The passage of Amendment One would give our elected officials the opportunity to pass legislation which could require a woman considering an abortion to receive all the facts surrounding her decision—such as risks associated with the surgery or drugs used. This disclosure of facts, known as informed consent, is not currently required.
If such legislation were passed, a woman could then make an informed, educated choice about her personal, private decision. The state legislature would have no part in making any decision regarding any woman’s abortion. If Amendment One passes, all that changes is that our elected officials will have the opportunity to consider and possibly pass legislation which could have the potential for making Tennessee a safer, yet less sought-after place for abortions. In addition, women could have the opportunity to understand more fully the risks associated with a choice of abortion.
Considering the facts, who would want to deny women the opportunity to obtain the common-sense protections required for other medical procedures?