By Allison Vargo
Editor’s note. This appeared in the Daily Beacon, the student newspaper at the University of Tennessee, and is reprinted with the author’s permission.
In 1973, the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade ruled that “The right of privacy … is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” However, they also ruled that the “Court’s decisions recognizing a right of privacy also acknowledge that some state regulation in areas protected by that right is appropriate,” and “a State may properly assert important interests in safeguarding health, in maintaining medical standards, and in protecting potential life.”
This is exactly what Amendment 1 hopes to do, according to Ballotpedia.org: “assert important interests in safeguarding health, in maintaining medical standards” because “nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion.” Amendment 1 doesn’t take away a woman’s right to privacy or choice; it protects women by following the recommendations of Roe v. Wade.
In 2012, the Health Department cited both the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health and the Volunteer Women’s Clinic for an array of disturbing violations.
Officials found sutures 12 years past the expiration date, expired birth control pills and an old mattress stuffed in a closet that was supposedly used on patients, among an additional 23 pages of heinous violations. One such violation exposed women to blood-borne diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B & C by only cleaning testing devices with an alcohol prep pad between uses.
These practices are not only completely incompetent, but gravely disturbing. Women deserve, and have a right to, so much better than this.
If citizens were given the right to properly regulate abortion providers, women would have been protected from the clinics’ medically incompetent and unsterile conditions.
Women’s clinics that provide abortions have been getting away with these disgusting practices because they aren’t always held to the same standards as other health clinics. These mediocre standards explain the blind eye cast at the Knoxville clinics, as well as why in early 2012 two women were carried out of the New Women All Women Health Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. These women overdosed on a drug, vasopressin, after being given 10 times the proper amount. They were physically carried out in a back alley to an ambulance, because the clinic couldn’t operate gurneys.
This same incompetence allowed Pennsylvania officials to neglect properly inspecting one such clinic for over 15 years. Such negligence allowed Kermit Gosnell (charged in May 2013) to commit the murders of three infants, the involuntary manslaughter of one woman and a multitude of heinous practices.
Not only are Tennessee women not protected from medical incompetence, they aren’t guaranteed the right to be informed about their health or the choices available to them. Currently, Planned Parenthood is being sued in Colorado for allowing a child molester to coerce a 13-year-old girl into an abortion, according to an article in The Washington Times.
As of October, Tennessee doesn’t require women to be fully informed about the abortion procedure, to be provided written informational material or to be informed that they can’t be coerced into an abortion.
For the first time in 14 years, the people of Tennessee have the opportunity to ensure the safety and well being of every woman that walks into a women’s health clinic. A “yes” on Amendment 1 gives women their voices back, and allows Tennessee citizens to talk to their legislators, demanding safer, cleaner and healthier standards. Amendment 1 gives women their full choice back.
What will it take for such changes to be a priority? Will it take the accidental contraction of HIV, or even manslaughter, for such incompetence to be undesirable? A Yes for 1 is a yes for all women, and a daring no to the face of silent incompetence.
Allison Vargo is a senior in social work.
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