Commonsense Protections or Government Interference in Private Decisions? Competing Media Frames in the Battle Over Tennessee’s Abortion Amendment

  • Amy E. Jasperson
  • Charles KelleyJr.
  • Kirby Bennett


Campaign seasons, especially in midterm elections, are more than just about federal political candidates. As efforts to make progress in Congress meet with gridlock, and as significant efforts are mounted to alter state constitutions to advance political agendas, scholars of political communication need to focus attention on the campaign strategies employed in issue campaigns at the state level. This chapter outlines one of the 2014 battles on abortion, an issue of prominence on political agendas in states across the nation (Wyler, 2014). Tennessee Amendment 1 was an effort to rewrite the Tennessee Constitution to eliminate privacy protections for women on the issue of abortion. This case is striking in that, prior to the 2014 vote, Tennessee law provided the most protective privacy laws for women in the South. As abortion clinics closed in surrounding states, Tennessee remained a state where an abortion could be obtained without the same restrictions and obstacles faced in other states, causing pro-life forces to dub Tennessee an “abortion tourism” state (Wadhwani, 2014a). The outcome of this campaign is significant for the direction of women’s abortion rights in the South. Further, the framing strategies used in this campaign have implications for future communication efforts related to this issue. In particular, we found that both sides used frames that are typically used by the other side. We analyze the significance and possible implications of these “refraining” efforts and discuss the boundaries of such strategies going forward. This research examines the nature of campaign messages generated by the Yes-on-1 and No-on-One groups as they waged their battle over abortion rights in Tennessee.


Voter Turnout Plan Parenthood Vote Choice Media Market Campaign Finance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Amy E. Jasperson, Charles Kelley Jr., and Kirby Bennett 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy E. Jasperson
  • Charles KelleyJr.
  • Kirby Bennett

There are no affiliations available

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