Tennessee House Subcommittee Approves Amendment to Limit Pro-Abortion Court
by Steven Ertelt
April 29, 2009
Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — A Tennessee state House subcommittee on Wednesday approved a state constitutional amendment that would limit the reach of an expansive pro-abortion ruling by the state Supreme Court. The amendment is necessary because the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled 4-1 in 2000 that the state constitution allows unlimited abortions.
The ruling claimed the Tennessee Constitution contains a fundamental abortion right even broader than Roe v. Wade or the federal constitution.
The decision resulted in the striking down of numerous pro-life Tennessee laws that were helping women and limiting abortions.
The Senate has signed off on the amendment as has the House Health and Human Resources Committee, but the measure was sent to the House Budget Subcommittee after some lawmakers said they were concerned about the cost of publishing a notice in newspapers about the proposal.
Secretary of State Tre Hargett has offered to pay for the $20,000 cost and the subcommittee approved the measure, which Republican Rep. Debra Maggart of Hendersonville sponsored.
Now the constitutional amendment appears to be headed for the state House floor, where it is expected to be approved.
The Senate approved the amendment, SJR 127, on a 24-8 vote on March 23.
Every one of the Tennessee Senate Republicans supported the constitutional amendment along with five Democrats while eight Democrats opposed the measure.
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. In 2008, 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.
A favorable vote for the amendment this 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.
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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