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Tennessee Abortion Referendum Battle Begins

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)--The battle over a Supreme Court ruling thirteen years ago which threw out 48-hour mandatory waiting periods for abortions and requirements all but first-term abortions be performed in hospitals in back in the spotlight here in Tennessee.

Anti-abortion rights activists are already planning high-dollar fundraisers one year before a constitutional amendment will be presented next fall which gives lawmakers more power in restricting access to abortions.

State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey will be holding a reception and dinner on Monday to support the proposed amendment. Ramsey is urging supporters to pay $1,000 for two tickets and up to $50,000 to be named chairman of the effort to stop Tennessee from being an "abortion destination" for people from neighboring states. $250,000 has reportedly already been raised. 

In a statement to the Associated Press, Ramsey stated "The passage of this amendment will restore the constitutional silence on abortion that was usurped by liberal judges and allow Tennessee to place reasonable, common sense restrictions on the abhorrent practice of abortion."

However, abortion rights activists will also mount a campaign against the amendment. Jeff Teague, president of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee stated via a phone interview that "It's been our experience that when people find out about it they get very concerned. They get concerned about privacy rights and an attack on women's rights."  

Teague called the language of the proposed amendment "deliberately confusing people to think there are exceptions."
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