by Steven Ertelt
April 13, 2006
Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — A Tennessee state House committee killed a measure that would amend the state’s constitution to nullify a state Supreme Court decision misusing the privacy clause in the state’s constitution to create an unlimited right to abortion.
The full Senate signed off on the idea on a 24-9 vote but a House subcommittee killed the measure, as it has done in the past.
The subcommittee voted 4-3 on a party line vote against the measure with Democrats opposing the measure and Republicans supporting it. The Public Health and Family Assistance Subcommittee defeated the measure in 2004 and 2002 as well — again after it received Senate support.
“I’m certainly disappointed,” said Rep. Dolores Gresham told the Nashville City Paper after the vote.
She said she wasn’t sure if she would try to get the full House to bring up the measure or not. The measure has 50 House sponsors.
Pro-life advocates turned out in strong support for the bill, SJR 127 and sported yellow stickers saying "Let the people vote."
"Tennesseans were allowed to vote on the lottery," Karen Brukardt of Tennessee Right to Life said. "What is it about abortion that the Democratic leadership is so afraid to allow the people to have their say? Where’s the public’s ‘choice?’"
She blamed Speaker Jimmy Naifeh for using his power to place the bill in a stacked committee that doesn’t represent the views of most state lawmakers.
Pro-life groups support the amendment and Tennessee Right to Life said it would respond to the landmark abortion decision of 2000 in which the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled 4-1 that the Tennessee Constitution contains a fundamental abortion right even broader than Roe v. Wade or the federal constitution.
The decision ended up striking down numerous pro-life Tennessee laws that were helping women and limiting abortions.
The amendment says: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.” It will go to voters for their approval but only after the state legislature approves it by a two-thirds vote in two consecutive legislative sessions.
Brian Harris, the director of Tennessee Right to Life said he thinks Republicans will need to recapture the state House before there are enough votes to approve the amendment in the chamber.
"The people of Tennessee deserve a voice in our state’s public policy regarding abortion," said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life."
"Decisions on abortion regulation should be decided by the Legislature, not activist pro-abortion judges. We will continue to do everything in our power to bring about a public vote for the restoration of common sense pro-life policies," said Harris.
In 2003, 14,933 abortions were reported performed on women residing in Tennessee. In 2004, the number dropped to 13,902, a 6.9% decline or 1,031 fewer abortions.
Related web sites:
Tennessee Right to Life – https://tennesseerighttolife.org