by Steven Ertelt
January 31, 2008
Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — The Tennessee Senate on Wednesday approved 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. Senators signed off on the measure, as they have repeatedly before, on a 23-9 margin and now the battle heads to the House.
The proposal says "nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion."
"I’m pleased with the passage," Sen Diane Black, the Republican sponsor told the Associated Press after its passage. "This is a good day for the people of Tennessee; to restore to the people the power of their constitution."
Brian Harris, the head of Tennessee Right to Life, told LifeNews.com that Black and pro-life Democrats deserve praise for moving the bill forward.
"For many months Senator Black has carefully researched and planned the manner in which she wished to proceed on SJR 127," said Harris. "In the end, Senator Black’s effectiveness is demonstrated both by her willingness to share credit with pro-life Democrats and by the margin of the vote supporting SJR 127."
During the debate and vote, senators either defeated or saw withdrawn several amendments by lawmakers trying to weaken the bill.
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.
Rep. Mary Pruitt, the head of the Public Health and Family Assistance subcommittee, told AP she wouldn’t comment on what she plans to do with the bill.
Those voting in favor of SJR 127 included every Republican, 6 Democrats and 1 independent. Nine Democrats voted against it.
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