by Steven Ertelt
January 15, 2008
Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — The Tennessee Senate will likely hold a debate and vote on a state constitutional amendment regarding abortion sometime next week. Sen. Diane Black, a Republican who is the main sponsor of the bill, says she wants all of the members of the chamber to be able to vote.
However, Sen. Randy McNally, a pro-life Republican lawmaker, is expected to miss some time in the legislature due to the death of his mother-in-law.
As a result, Tennessee legislators will likely begin debate on the bill towards the end of next week.
As LifeNews.com reported yesterday, Gov. Phil Bredesen isn’t taking much of a position on a measure, which would amend the state’s constitution and nullify a state Supreme Court decision misusing the privacy clause in it to create an unlimited right to abortion.
Bredesen is pro-abortion and he has come under fire from pro-life groups before for including funding for Planned Parenthood abortion centers in his state budget.
But the governor has no role in signing or vetoing the bill for a state constitutional amendment so he plans to largely stay out of the debate on it.
On their first day back in session, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure and sent it to the full Senate for a debate and vote.
That the measure received such a quick approval isn’t surprising given that the Senate has approved it repeatedly before. In 2006, 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.
This year, state Rep. Lois DeBerry, a Memphis Democrat and the House speaker pro tem, says she thinks the same committee that rejected the amendment in 2006 will do so again this year.
The amendment says that "nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion." It enjoys the backing of Tennessee Right to Life, the leading state pro-life group.
SJR 127 has already passed the state Senate three times by increased margins each time, said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life. As a result of this debate, pro-life voters have organized and elected a solid pro-life majority in the Tennessee Senate where passage of this resolution is all but certain.
Our battle now is in the state House where pro-abortion activists still hold control and use that power to oppose a public vote on this most basic question of life and death, said Harris.
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. The legislature hasn’t approved it once yet.
In 2000, 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.
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