Tennessee Lawmakers Back Change to Constitutional Amendment on Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 24, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Tennessee Lawmakers Back Change to Constitutional Amendment on Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
January 24,

Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — Lawmakers in the state legislature have approved a change to a state constitutional amendment that would nullify a state Supreme Court decision misusing the privacy clause in it to create an unlimited right to abortion. The state’s pro-life group supported the change and says the amendment makes it more likely to get support.

Sen. Douglas Henry, a pro-life Democrat, offered an amendment to SJR 127 making clear that, even in the cases of rape and incest, the legislature would determine the state’s abortion law instead of the state courts.

However, the amendment left out a provision concerning abortion in very rare cases to save the mother’s life and a second amendment was necessary to correct the original one.

Tennessee Right to Life told LifeNews.com on Thursday that both amendments were added on bipartisan 29-3 votes with Sens. Roy Herron and Beverly Marrero of Memphis and Thelma Harper of Nashville voting against them.

“Tennessee Right to Life today commends and thanks pro-life leaders in both parties for putting partisan differences aside and coming together for the restoration of common sense policies and protections for Tennessee’s women, children and families,” the group’s president Brian Harris told LifeNews.com.

Now that SJR 127 has been amended, it requires a constitutional second and third reading in the Senate and those will likely occur on Monday and Wednesday of next week.

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."

“SJR 127 has already passed the state Senate three times by increased margins each time,” Harris said previously. “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.”

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