NASHVILLE -- The battle over a proposed abortion amendment to the Tennessee Constitution took to the airwaves Tuesday as opponents began running their first television spot attacking the proposal.
The 30-second spot features a physician warning approval of Amendment 1 will result in "government interference" in a woman's personal decisions. The Vote No on One Tennessee group said it is spending $145,000 to run the ad on cable stations in Nashville.
It's the "first step," the group says, in a multimillion-dollar TV, radio and direct-mail campaign against the Nov. 4 ballot measure. Amendment 1 proponents have their own plans to support passage.
The proposed amendment says that "nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion." It gives state lawmakers power "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."
Pro-life groups say their target is a 2000 Tennessee Supreme Court ruling that restricted state lawmakers' ability to enact what proponents say are necessary protections for women. Critics call them barriers.
In the No group's first ad, Dr. Owen Phillips, a Memphis obstetrician-gynecologist, describes a patient "who found out she was pregnant the same day she found out that her cancer was back. She continued the pregnancy and fought the cancer. Her child lived, but she died. It was her decision and no one else's.
"No politician has the right to legislate these personal and private decisions, but that's what Amendment 1 would do," she adds. "Amendment 1 is just government interference."
Amendment 1 supporter David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, said "people don't know that our legislature has virtually no authority to make policies."
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at email@example.com or 615-255-0550.