Tennessee Legislature Will Hear Pro-Life Bill to Overturn Pro-Abortion Court Ruling
by Steven Ertelt
February 19, 2004
Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — After several weeks of delay, the Tennessee state legislature will finally hold a hearing on pro-life legislation designed to counteract a state Supreme Court decision that pro-life groups say misused a privacy clause in the state constitution to create an unlimited right to abortion.
In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court, in a 4-1 ruling, decided that the privacy clause in the state constitution confers a "fundamental right to abortion."
As a result, pro-life legislation such as Right to Know laws, waiting periods and other abortion regulations — upheld by the Supreme Court — are invalid in Tennessee.
SJR 127 would amend the state constitution to say that the privacy clause does not allow an unlimited right to abortion. The amendment "provide[s] that nothing in Constitution of Tennessee secures or protects a right to abortion or funding thereof."
"(The court ruling) gave the right to abortion even greater proportion than in the rest of the country," Sen. Dave Fowler, the amendment’s sponsor, said. "It says that no matter what
happens on the national level with Roe v. Wade that Tennessee will remain a safe haven for abortion."
If passed by the state legislature twice with a two-thirds vote, a public vote would be taken on the proposal.
However, pro-abortion members of the Senate Finance Committee last week delayed the vote.
Senator Jim Kyle (D-Memphis) questioned the resolution’s clear prohibition of the use of tax dollars for abortion and requested that the Attorney General provide an opinion on the constitutionality of the proposal.
Pro-abortion Senator Ward Crutchfield (D-Chattanooga) further delayed the vote, asking that the committee go into recess to hear from a pro-abortion lobbyist for the Women’s Political Caucus.
Abortion advocates have stepped up their campaign to oppose the legislation. In a recent email to members, the Women’s Political Caucus said senators were being "swamped with
calls and letters from people urging them to support this ‘dangerous’ (pro-life) amendment."
Pro-abortion groups argue the legislation undermines the independence of the Tennessee Supreme Court and violates the privacy rights of women considering abortions.
If passed by the Senate Finance Committee on February 24, the pro-life resolution is expected to go to the full Senate for debate. A similar resolution passed the Senate 21-10 in 2001, but was derailed in a hostile House subcommittee — despite the support of 54 House co-sponsors.
ACTION: Contact your state legislators today to voice your support for SJR 127. All legislators may be reached by telephone at 1-800-449-8366. To see if your state Senator is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, go to https://www.legislature.state.tn.us/senate/committees/scommemb.htm#fwm
Related web sites:
Tennessee Right to Life – https://www.tnrtl.org
SJR 127 – https://www.legislature.state.tn.us/bills/currentga/BILL/SJR0127.pdf