Tennessee State Senate Approves Pro-Life Constitutional Amendment
by Steven Ertelt
April 1, 2004
Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — The Tennessee state Senate has approved a constitutional amendment that would ensure the state constitution does not grant a legal right to an abortion. The
vote follows another taken just weeks ago that proponents thought would doom the pro-life measure.
The Senate approved the proposal on a 23-6 vote. Four senators did not vote.
Brian Harris, the president of Tennessee Right to Life, called the vote a "victory for the people."
"[The] victory belongs to grassroots Tennesseans who made their
voices heard and remained committed to continuing doing everything possible to move SJR 127 forward in a meaningful form," Harris said.
"The fact that pro-abortion senators cast pro-life votes is a testament to the power of growing the Right to Life momentum throughout Tennessee," Harris added.
Members of the Senate had angry words for pro-life state Sen. David Fowler (R), the amendment’s sponsor. Fowler originally indicated he would not bring up the measure again following a vote to add rape and incest exceptions to it.
However, he worked to fashion a compromise that would note the very rare exceptions, but leave all authority to create law on abortion to the state legislature rather than the courts.
The new version says: "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or the funding thereof. The legislature shall have the sole authority to make and shall make such provisions for abortions as it determines reasonably necessary for victims of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother."
The constitutional amendment came as a response to decisions by the Tennessee Supreme Court that misused the privacy clause in the state constitution to guarantee an unlimited abortion right and strike down pro-life legislation.
"The people of this state — not activist judges — [should] determine this state’s abortion policy," Harris told LifeNews.com.
Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden joined a group of legislators in voting against the proposal because he says it fails to guarantee that women will have the right to an abortion in those limited circumstances.
Pro-life advocates attended the vote and sported large yellow buttons saying, "Let us vote in 2006." The message is a reference to the ballot vote that must be taken to approve the constitutional amendment should it be approved twice by the state legislature.
Abortion advocates attending the vote were outnumbered three to one by pro-life supporters.