Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who star in a reality show about their life with 19 children, are lending their endorsement to an initiative in Tennessee to pave the way for more state-level abortion restrictions. The couple appeared at an event this week to rally support for Amendment 1, a measure to roll back the state’s current protections for women’s right to choose.
Tennessee is somewhat of an outlier in the Southeast region of the country because it doesn’t impose as many stringent restrictions on abortion as its neighbors do. Its state constitution actually has broader protections for reproductive rights than the U.S. constitution does — in 2000, Tennessee’s Supreme Court decided that mandatory waiting periods and forced counseling laws are both unconstitutional attacks on the right to choose an abortion. Amendment 1 seeks to change that. If voters approve the ballot initiative next year, lawmakers will have the power to reinstate those types of restrictions.
The measure isn’t up for a vote until next November, but the Duggars told the Tennessean that they’re getting a head start because they anticipate strong resistance to the policy.
“As we talk to people here in Tennessee, most people are totally unaware of what happened in 2000, when the (Tennessee Supreme Court) went and threw out almost all of the regulations,” Jim Bob noted.
The Duggars think it’s important to reinstate the restrictions that the state’s highest court struck down because women need more information about abortion. “Tennessee is the only state in the Southeast that does not have a waiting period for a woman before she has an abortion, and it does not have informed consent,” Jim Bob Duggar explained. “Many women are having a lifetime of regret.”
The idea that abortion always causes women to feel depression and regret is a popular anti-choice talking point. In reality, however, it’s not true. Studies have found that the women who choose to have abortions overwhelmingly say it was the right choice for them, and the most common emotion they experience is relief. When women do feel negative emotions after having an emotion, those feelings are typically exacerbated by the pervasive societal stigma that reinforces the message that abortion is always something to feel ashamed about.
Furthermore, the types of laws that the Duggars are advocating — condescending policies that suggest women don’t know what’s best when it comes to their own health care, and assume they’ll change their minds if they simply have more time to think about it — don’t actually achieve their intended goal. In fact, 90 percent of women who want to end a pregnancy are already “very confident” about their choice, and waiting periods and counseling sessions don’t change that. Nonetheless, it’s a popular state-level tactic. Thirty five states require women to receive some type of counseling before being allowed to proceed with an abortion procedure, and 26 of those state also force them to wait a specified amount of time before their abortion can take place.
The Duggars have long been outspoken opponents of contraception. Recently, they’ve also taken up anti-abortion activism as well. In August, they spoke at a press event to drum up support for a radical six-week abortion ban in Ohio — with 17 of their children in tow.