In 2014, Tennessee voters added “Amendment 1” to the state Constitution. The key wording was in the beginning: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.”
Just days after voters approved Amendment 1, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit challenging Tennessee voters’ decision. Eight voters, including a board chair of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, challenged the outcome in which Amendment 1 passed 53% to 47% .
The outcome was upheld on April 21, 2016 by Circuit Court Judge Michael Binkley who said the language for how votes for amendments should be counted is “unambiguous.” The ruling then went to the federal appeals court level.
Yesterday, in a resounding victory for pro-life Tennesseans, judges on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals have rejected the pro-abortion effort to overturn the 2014 voter passage of Amendment 1.
“Although the subject of abortion rights will continue to be controversial in Tennessee and across our nation, it is time for uncertainty surrounding the people’s 2014 approval and ratification of Amendment 1 to be put to rest,” wrote Senior Judge David McKeague, a 2005 appointee of George W. Bush.
Tennessee Right to Life expresses profound gratitude to the many supporters, advocates, and voters who sacrificed to see Amendment 1 placed on the ballot and passed by public vote. It was made necessary by a radical pro-abortion decision by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2000 which wrongly declared a so-called “fundamental right to abortion” in the Tennessee Constitution thereby making enforcement of common-sense protections impossible in Tennessee.
Passage of SJR 127 and Amendment 1 remained the top priority and legislative goal of Tennessee Right to Life for more than 16 years.
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“Today’s ruling is vindication of the state’s amendment process and victory for the thousands of pro-life Tennesseans who sacrificed to see Amendment 1 passed,” said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life.
“We are grateful to the legislators who placed the amendment on the ballot, to voters who approved it, and to the Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Coordinator of Elections who all worked tirelessly to defend it,” said Harris. “The voices of Tennessee’s voters have been heard and, as a result, public policy decisions on the matter of abortion can be rightly debated and determined by the people’s representatives.”