House Bill HJR61, HJR66 and SJR127 are the latest in the line of proposals intended to amend the Tennessee constitution regarding its abortion laws. All three proposals aim to add into the Tennessee constitution an amendment which would state that “nothing in Constitution of Tennessee secures or protects right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. ” This proposition, proponents of the bill defend, essentially puts Tennessee back on neutral in terms of the issue of abortion.
There are several aims as to why the bills were proposed but the dominant reasons include the banning of partial-birth abortions (which even the United States Supreme Court has upheld) and the re-institution of common-sense protection such as a mandatory 48 hour wait period, true informed consent and that 2nd or 3rd trimester abortions be performed in a hospital. Detractors on the other hand (such as Planned Parenthood), argue these petitions as anti-woman and anti-choice (Wyatt, 2005; Fowler and Patray 2009).
The legal issue of abortion in America is primarily rooted in the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court Decision of 1973 wherein the regulation of abortion was left to the states. In the decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the constitution is mandated to protect a woman’s right to abortion, which is a “novel right said to be found in the unstated right to privacy. ” However, the court also upheld the notion that the states have an “important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of human life.
” As a result of these patchwork opinions left in the wake of the Roe vs. Wade decision, abortion has become an unsettled area of law with various interpretations and varied implementations across the federal government (FindLaw, 2009). In the United States, abortion is a common experience and it said that at the current rates, one in three American women would have had an abortion by the age of 45. “Moreover, broad cross sections of U.
S. women have abortions. 57% of women having abortions are in their 20s; 60% have one or more children; 86% are unmarried; 57% are economically disadvantaged” (Guttmacher Institute, 2009). In Tennessee, an estimated 18,140 women obtained abortions in 2005, giving the state a rate of 14. 4 abortions per 1,000 women and thus represents 14. 4 abortions per 1,000 women 1. 5 of all abortions in the United States.
Despite this, 94% of Tennessee counties had no abortion providers while 4 metropolitan areas (Morristown; Cleveland; Jackson; Clarksville) also lack abortion providers (Guttmacher Institute, 2009). In response to the growing legislation activity regarding the practice of abortion, in 1988 the New York Nurses Association acknowledged that “abortion is a moral rather than a social or health issue” (NYNSA, 2004) and thus has released an official statement regarding how nurses should face the ethical issue.
In the statement, the NYNSA vows to uphold the rights of the woman patient: she has the right to bear a child and thus also has the right decide for an abortion; she has the right to information regarding alternatives; she who chooses to have a legal abortion “has a right to a timely procedure, as well as competent, supportive care, both physical and psychological”; she has the right to freedom from imposition of other’s beliefs or judgmental attitudes and that she has “a right to receive care in an environment that provides privacy and specific nursing expertise.
” (NYNSA, 2004). However, in a research done by Lipp and Fothergill (2009), the authors explored the impact of abortion on nurses working in abortion care which revealed that “burnout and coping are important issues in abortion care. ” Afterall, even abortionists and those who work with them also suffer from the trauma of an abortion procedure. Comments such as “[Doing abortions] can make you feel bad … No matter how pro-choice you are, it makes you feel low – New York Abortionist, The New York Times Magazine, January 18.
1998″ and “It’s a nasty, dirty, yucky thing and I always come home angry. – David Zbaraz, Abortionist Washington Post, March 3, 1980” (Pregnant Pause, 2002) come from practitioners themselves, a sign that the procedure does not only affect the woman but also those who are compelled to provide it. This is why the NYNSA in their statement asserted the rights of the nurse also, stating that Registered Professional Nurses’ Rights and Responsibilities include:
“The responsibility and obligation to provide competent and supportive nursing care; The responsibility to provide the patient with objective information and to offer access to resources before, during and after a voluntary termination of pregnancy; The responsibility to provide care without imposing personal beliefs on patients who choose to abort; A right to educational preparation, and the responsibility to obtain such, to assist and meet the emotional, physical and psychological needs of women who are considering or have had a voluntary termination of pregnancy; The right to their own moral, ethical and religious beliefs; The right to refuse to participate in a voluntary termination of pregnancy, except in an emergency situation, where the patient’s needs do not allow for substitution; A right not to be subjected to coercion, censure or discipline for reasons of such refusal; A right and responsibility to seek employment in areas where the care of women choosing abortions will not be assigned. ” (NYNSA, 2004). As a nurse, healthcare professional and even as a person, I am against the practice of abortion for abortion’s sake and thus I am in favor of these recent proposed resolutions. As a professional in the field of health care, we are taught to value life of any form and non-therapeutic abortion essentially violates the codes “preserve life” and “first do no harm” followed by any health professional. If these proposed amendments are passed, abortion will not be totally banned but instead regulated towards the greater good of the persons involved.
It would allow any woman who considers the procedure enough time to totally consider the gravity of such a life altering procedure. It would allow practitioners to decline certain practices such as partial-birth abortion which are deemed inhumane. Overall, these resolutions would protect the individual as well as the state from the emotional, social and psychological harm an abortion usually carry with it. These resolutions in effect would protect life. As a pro-life advocate and as person of science, I believe that life begins at the very moment of conception. Only something that is alive can propagate itself and that is what a fetus is at its earliest stages.
Even though some argue that at the beginning a fetus is nothing but a cluster of rapidly dividing cells, the mere fact that it is growing by itself means there is life to it. We cannot see the same behavior in a solitary egg cell or a solitary sperm cell and yet we label these as living cells of the human body. The last time I checked, living is defined as the presence of life and an embryo definitely has a claim to that title. However, some abortions are unavoidable especially in certain situations where either the mother or the fetus’ life is clearly in harms way and a decision must be reached between choosing the life of one over the life of the other. As health professionals we are bound to make such critical decisions and are thus expected to act in accordance to the greater good. References FindLaw. (2009).
Tennessee abortion laws: explanation of chart and additional information. www. law. findlaw. com. Retrieved March 13, 2009 from http://law. findlaw. com/state-laws/abortion/tennessee/ Fowler, D. and Patray, B. (2009). Effort to Bring SJR 127 to the House Floor for a Fair Up and Down Vote. www. lifepetition. org. Retrieved on March 13, 2009 from http://www. lifepetition. org/ Guttmacher Institute. (2009). State facts about Abortion: Tennesee. www. guttmacher. org. Retrieved March 13, 2009 from http://www. guttmacher. org/pubs/sfaa/tennessee. html Lipp, A. and Fothergill, A. (2009). Nurses in abortion care: identifying and managing stress. Contemporary Nurse vol. 31 no. 2.