Tennessee Pro-Life Advocates Hope Legislature Will OK Abortion Amendment
by Steven Ertelt
November 24, 2008
Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — The presidential elections were a setback for the pro-life community, but pro-life advocates in Tennessee may have actually made gains. They think there is a chance to get the legislature to finally approve an amendment that would make the Tennessee Constitution abortion-neutral.
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 struck down numerous pro-life Tennessee laws that were helping women and limiting abortions.
The constitutional amendment is needed to nullify the decision and allow the state to enact limits on abortion or ban abortions if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned.
In 2006, the full Senate signed off on the idea on a 24-9 vote but a House subcommittee killed the measure.
Earlier this year, the same subcommittee, the House Public Health and Family Assistance Subcommittee defeated SJR-127 on a 6-3 vote as the Democratic-controlled panel has done before.
However, Republicans won control of the state House following the elections and observers say that makes it very likely both the House and Senate will approve the amendment.
"I feel confident that it’ll pass both houses," Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told WBIR. "It passed the Senate four times, there shouldn’t be a problem."
A favorable vote for the amendment next year is just the beginning.
After getting a simple majority in the 2009-2010 session, lawmakers must then approve it by a two-thirds margin in the 2011-12 session and then voters would have a chance to consider it on the ballot in the 2014 election.
Tennessee Right to Life president Brian Harris told WBIR he is confident the amendment will get a better reception in the next legislative session.
"We have fought on the front lines for eight years to bring this matter to the public for an up or down vote," he said, and added that he is counting on the new Republican majority to follow through on its promise to pass the amendment.
"We are counting on them to keep their word," Harris said. "We are confident that they will."
A vote to approve the amendment would follow a poll showing most state residents either want all abortions illegal or want abortions limited to very few circumstances.
The latest Middle Tennessee State University poll finds almost 77 percent of state residents want more limits on abortions or abortions prohibited — which the amendment would allow.
The proposal says "nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion."
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
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