published Friday, May 20th, 2011

Tennessee: House OK puts abortion measure on 2014 ballot

NASHVILLE — State House members today approved a referendum allowing Tennessee voters to decide in 2014 whether the state constitution protects abortion rights.

The vote was 76-18 to approve Senate Joint Resolution 127, which is intended to nullify a 2000 Tennessee Supreme Court ruling and give state lawmakers the ability to impose some restrictions on abortions allowable under federal rulings.

In the 2000 case, the state’s high court ruled 4-1 that Tennessee’s Constitution contains a stronger right to privacy and abortion than the U.S. Constitution. The court ruled several legislative restrictions on abortion unconstitutional.

During today’s debate, some lawmakers sought to include language protecting abortion rights for rape or incest victims or those whose pregnancies endanger their lives.

Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville, argued the ballot referendum’s wording “is going to mislead our voters because it implies those three exceptions will ultimately be available to the women of this state and that’s not the case.”

But House Republican Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville, objected, saying, “Your language would put into jeopardy our language because of strict scrutiny [applications] the Supreme Court uses.”

The amendment was tabled, 69-29.

Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, denounced the 2000 court decision.

“Even though the word abortion is not in the constitution, [the court] found it in there after 200 years. We’re putting the constitution back to where it was before the liberal Supreme Court found abortion in the constitution.”

The ballot resolution will say: "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother."

A number of restrictions would remain off-limits to lawmakers under federal rulings.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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Leaf said...

I thought that people had rights until they were specifically taken away by laws, not the other way around.

May 20, 2011 at 3:56 p.m.
ITguy said...

Good point Leaf.

May 20, 2011 at 4:03 p.m.
Humphrey said...

Leaf, republicans agree with you 100% and think that statement is true.

As long as it is a "right" they agree with.

May 20, 2011 at 4:33 p.m.
mtngrl said...

Exactly right Leaf and Humphrey. Here is a video showing the republican hypocracy on this issue perfectly:

GOP joins you in the doctor's office

Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, talks with Rachel Maddow about the Republican anti-abortion agenda and how Republicans are compromising on their most important principles to wage war on women's health.

May 20, 2011 at 4:47 p.m.
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May 20, 2011 at 9:09 p.m.
nowfedup said...

What is going on in Nashville is one giant step backwards for TN, which is already backwards when comparted to other states, the more civilized and evolved states. Want real living wage jobs in TN, then best rein in the potlicals as they will NOT attract real wage jobs, substandard educations, health care and personal religious vendetta by elected does not help the state. They already gave away billions in Tax breaks for corporations, now this religious right agenda? Be careful for what you wish for TN as right now at bottom of most lists, other then really good place for well off to live. Women should chose for selves, not a bunch of ole men in Nashville, or some trolling streets in Knoxville.

May 21, 2011 at 9:57 a.m.
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