Imagine that it is the year 2017. You are a 15 year old girl who does well academically and has a good relationship with your parents. After two weeks at church camp, you are glad to begin school again. Then, you find out you are pregnant. You wonder how to handle this, feeling alone and frightened. A pregnancy will embarrass and disappoint your parents tremendously, your dad being a respected church elder.
You fell hard for a 17 year old boy at church camp. It surprised you when he pressured you to have sex with him and although you didn’t really want to, you didn’t want him to stop dating you either. After sex, he dumped you for another girl. Your heart was broken but you mostly felt embarrassed and ashamed that you let him have sex with you.
If Amendment 1 to the Tennessee Constitution had been voted down in November 2014, there are professional consultation services available to you. You can talk with a doctor or another healthcare provider, who might help you talk with your parents, or find the services you need. With much thought, reflection and consultation, you decide to get an abortion with your parent’s consent, a safe medical procedure.
But, if Amendment 1 had passed in 2014, here is what may happen. Since then, Tennessee legislators have introduced and passed bills so there are few if any legal, professional abortion services available. Since you know how distressed your parents will be if they find out about the pregnancy, you ask friends to help you decide what to do, and they find someone who will abort your pregnancy. You get the abortion, and go home.
Now, imagine yourself as this child’s mother or father. Your daughter has been such a gift to the family, so loving and kind. Then, one day she is sick with a fever, cramping. You figure it is her period along with a virus and urge her to stay home from school, and then you will take her to the doctor if she doesn’t feel better soon. The next day when you go off to work, she is pale, so you set a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow. Tomorrow is too late. When you return home, you find your child dead from hemmoraging.
All because Tennessee stopped granting the right to privacy and to choices about female reproductive health. In 2017, abortions in Tennessee are no longer available. Your beloved daughter is dead unnecessarily because she got butchered by an untrained abortionist. This feels like the 1940’s, but it is the year 2017, and the Tennessee legislature has made it almost impossible for a teenager to make an informed decision with her doctor, family and faith leader about what to do because of an unwanted pregnancy.
Your daughter is dead. You wish you had voted in November 2014 against Amendment 1 so that this type of tragedy had never happened.