Tennessee State House Kills Pro-Life Constitutional Amendment
by Steven Ertelt
April 14, 2004
Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — A state House panel voted on Wednesday to kill a pro-life constitutional amendment that would have guaranteed that a privacy provision could not be used by state courts to create an unlimited right to abortion.
The House Public Health and Family Assistance Subcommittee debated the bill for over an hour and then voted against it 5-4.
Pro-life groups blame state House leaders for assigning the bill to an unrelated committee. Tennessee Right to Life has expected the measure to be debated in the Judiciary Committee’s Constitutional Protections subcomittee.
The pro-life proposal 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," Tennessee Right to Life president Brian Harris told LifeNews.com.
Earlier this month, the state Senate approved the proposal on a 23-6 vote, after first defeating it and adding exceptions for rape and incest to the measure.
Both houses of the legislature must approved the amendment by a two-thirds vote and then approve the bill again by the same margin in a future legislative session. If that happens, then Tennessee voters will have an opportunity to approve the amendment.
Those voting against the pro-life bill include Mary Pruitt (D), Lois DeBerry (D), Sherry Jones (D), and Janis Sontany (D).
Those members supporting the pro-life bill included Chris Crider (R), Dennis Ferguson (D), Tre’ Hargett (R), and Jason Mumpower (R).
ACTION: Contact the above elected officials and let them know how you feel about their votes. All legislators may be reached by telephone at 1-800-449-8366.