NASHVILLE -- Conservative Christian reality TV stars Jim Bobb and Michelle Duggar threw their support behind Amendment 1 on abortion Monday, with Michelle Duggar charging the provision is needed to stop a "baby holocaust" taking place in Tennessee.
The Arkansas couple and 17 of their 19 children joined Tennessee social conservatives at a news conference at Legislative Plaza in Nashville where they discussed their support of the amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot.
"We have the responsibility under almighty God to protect innocent lives that cannot yet speak for themselves," said Michelle Duggar, whose family's lives are chronicled on the popular TLC series "19 Kids and Counting." "If we don't speak up and do something to stop this holocaust, the blood of these little ones will be on our hands."
The amendment would reverse a 2000 state Supreme Court decision that said the Tennessee Constitution provides a stronger right to privacy and productive freedom than the U.S. Constitution. The ruling threw out several state laws.
If approved, the amendment would give state lawmakers more power to pass laws such as waiting periods and requiring women to hear detailed information about abortion procedures before obtaining one. It would not impact the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.
One of the Duggars' sons, Joshua Duggar, who is the executive director of Family Research Council Action, the political arm of the same-named national FRC, a religious conservative group, released portions of a Sept. 25-25 survey of 604 Tennesseans.
It says 50 percent back the amendment. Another 22 percent oppose it while 28 percent are undecided. That was based on the amendment simply being read to respondents.
In a follow-up question, respondents were told the amendment "protects the rights of citizens to elect legislators that will pass pro-life legislation as opposed to over-reaching judges legislating personal agendas in the courts." Fifty-five percent then said they support it. The poll, conducted by Remington Research Group, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.99 percent. The firm employs automated telephone surveys.
But Carol Price, a retired psychiatrist and volunteer for the Vote No On 1 effort, said proponents' use of such phrases as "pro life" and "common sense" regulations are an "example of how the legislative process is being used to confuse the citizenry."
What's at stake, Price said, is "about privacy. It is about a citizen's right to make private medical decisions in consultation with her physician. If this amendment passes it will give legislators that decision-making power, including in the case of rape, incest or a woman's health. And I think when the voters understand that's what it's about, then they are going to vote no."
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-255-0550.