Tennessee Pro-Life Advocates Get Big Victory, House OKs Abortion Amendment
by Steven Ertelt
May 19, 2009
Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — The Tennessee state House has approved an amendment that pro-life advocates have fought for to limit the reach of a pro-abortion state Supreme Court ruling. The amendment, pro-life advocates say, is critically needed to be able to pass laws to limit and reduce abortions.
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 and it resulted in the striking down of numerous pro-life Tennessee laws that were helping women and limiting abortions.
The Senate-approved amendment, SJR 127, received a strongly bipartisan 76-22, to the delight of Ed Albin of Tennessee Right to Life, which has spearheaded the lobbying for it.
"After a nine-year struggle by Tennessee’s pro-life grassroots movement to force a House floor vote on the proposed constitutional amendment, the House has finally joined the state Senate which has already passed SJR 127 five times since 2000," he told LifeNews.com.
Although the legislature finally approved the amendment, Albin explains that the battle continues and pro-life advocates need to prepare for continuing the battle next year.
"As with every proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution, the resolution must now be brought back to the General Assembly for a second vote requiring a two-thirds super majority in the next legislative session," he said.
Albin hopes to someday be able to pass or enforce laws that require parental involvement for abortion, a waiting period, and license and regulate abortion centers. Those are the kind of laws that protect women and children and reduce abortions until the time comes when they can be prohibited.
Without the approval of the amendment next session, he says that can’t happen.
During the debate on the House floor, Representatives Debra Maggart and Bill Dunn, both Republicans, and Reps. Charles Curtiss and Curt Cobb, both Demcorats, led the fight for the amendment.
The helped defeat an amendment by Rep. Gary Odom which, if passed, would have rendered the pro-life resolution meaningless.
When the next General Assembly convenes in 2011, SJR 127 will need 22 votes in the state Senate and 66 votes in the state House.
Albin says pro-life advocates need to prepare for the 2010 elections to keep the numbers high enough to achieve it.
"Clearly the legislative races in 2010 will be key to ensuring that pro-life legislators constitute a strong majority in both chambers and pro-life Tennesseans should begin now to identify credible candidates for districts where legislators do not consistently support SJR 127 or other pro-life policies," he said.
If the legislature approves the amendment a second time, it will be placed on the ballot for voters to decide in the next governor’s race in 2014.
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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