Churches urge 'Yes on 1,' Tennessee's pro-life amendment

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez |

Churches from across various denominations including Southern Baptist, Assemblies of God, United Pentecostal, Presbyterian and Free Will Baptist are urging Tennesseans to vote "Yes on 1," the pro-life amendment on November's state ballot.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Christian Examiner) -- Thousands of Tennessee voters have been heading to early voting sites starting Oct. 15 to cast their ballots on several proposed changes to the state constitution  including the pro-life Amendment 1 which could change the state's abortion laws.

Amendment 1 is the state's first ever vote on abortion and proposes adding language to the constitution that gives elected representatives the right to "enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion." It also would include the statement, "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion."

A vote against the amendment would leave the constitution as is.

Opponents to the amendment argue women's rights are at stake and protest there are no safeguards for women who have pregnancies that could endanger their lives, or that resulted from rape or incest.

They also claim a vote in favor of the amendment will open the door to further legislation that could impose restrictive laws and make it more difficult to have the procedure.

Proponents of Yes on 1 counter that Tennessee's 8 bordering states have reasonable protections in place for vulnerable mothers and the unborn child and it makes sense for Tennessee to have informed consent, waiting periods, and, regulation of abortion clinics by its state Department of Health, too.

In an interview with Knoxville's WBIR TV-10, Stacy Dunn, the East Tennessee coordinator for the "Yes on 1" campaign told WBIR that Tennessee is a southeast abortion destination. "We have become where people go to have an abortion."

Results from a 2010 survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest a basis for the claim, with one in four abortions in Tennessee reported that year involving an out-of-state woman.

From phone banks to door-to-door campaigns, both sides are working to rally supporters and urge them to go and vote.

In September, churches from across various denominations including Southern Baptist, Assemblies of God, United Pentecostal, Presbyterian and Free Will Baptist churches coordinated a "Yes on 1" Sunday to inform congregants and encourage them to make it to the polls.

Early voting continues through Oct. 30. The Tennessean, reported over the weekend that 98,770 people had voted early as of Friday, Oct. 17. Additional satellite locations are scheduled to open this week in other counties and expected to draw even more voters.