In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court took the “right to abortion” under Roe v. Wade to a new level, finding an even stronger, more judicially protected right to abortion in the Tennessee Constitution. The court struck down our state’s informed consent law and our law requiring a waiting period between the time the woman was informed about the abortion procedure and the procedure itself. Worse yet, it made the re-enactment of those laws virtually impossible.
Seeing the Need for Abortion Regulations
That’s why FACT President David Fowler, a state senator at the time, drafted and filed in 2001 what would become Amendment 1 (Senate Joint Resolution 127) and spent the next 13 years heralding the need for the amendment and educating Tennesseans about the fact that our state had become an “abortion destination” for women in neighboring states seeking quick abortions.
Amendment 1 was designed to return to the Legislature the authority it needed to once again enact common-sense abortion regulations to protect women and children, including the following:
• Informed consent to provide accurate information related to women’s health issues and fetal development,
• 24-hour waiting period to avoid coercion and reduce the likelihood of an ill-considered decision,
• Inspection and regulation of abortion facilities, and
• Hospitalization requirement for riskier late-term abortions.
Advocates for Amendment 1
In early 2013, more than a year before the vote, FACT’s president and the chairman of the board joined leaders from other organizations to form the Yes on 1 Ballot Committee and served on the board of that organization’s campaign effort.
But FACT made its own substantial contributions to the amendment campaign effort, with members of its team traveling thousands of miles over the course of the year leading up to the vote to educate churches and other organizations.
Eventually, FACT and its legislative arm, Family Action of Tennessee, were called upon to engage in a direct mail and social media campaign promoting the amendment, which resulted in three different ballot measure committees being set up to fund those efforts. Almost $600,000 was spent on those campaigns!
In November 2014, all the hard work over the years paid off and FACT, along with other pro-life advocates and organizations in the state, celebrated the passage of Amendment 1.
Amendment 1 Victory Challenged
The celebration was short-lived, however, as the amendment was soon challenged in federal court by pro-abortion advocates. During the litigation, FACT and Family Action of Tennessee wound up being subpoenaed for evidence regarding our role in the various amendment campaign activities.
Thankfully, the state of Tennessee is vigorously defending the federal lawsuit, and the state has fought back by filing its own lawsuit to have the vote upheld in state court.
During the litigation process, FACT consulted with attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom about the possibility of intervening in the lawsuits to speak on behalf of those who did not vote in the gubernatorial election and were at risk of having their votes on the amendment not counted. But we concluded that the motion would probably not meet all the court’s requirements for intervention and that our resources would be better directed toward filing an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief when either or both of the cases reached the court of appeals level. With an appeal now headed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, FACT is again looking at the possibility of participating in that appeal.
The bottom line is that FACT has been engaged in the fight for Amendment 1 from its inception, and you can rest assured that we aren’t about to quit now.
Thanks to your faithful prayers and generous financial support, we have come a long way in a decade to stand in the gap and advocate for life, family, marriage, and religious liberty in our state.