(NASHVILLE, TN), April 18, 2011 — The State Senate voted 24 to 8 today to give Tennesseans the opportunity to restore their voice in determining what state law should be regarding abortions. The supermajority is two more votes than needed by the Senate to put the constitutional resolution on the ballot. The measure, Senate Joint Resolution 127 sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), addresses a State Supreme Court decision in 2000 that struck down provisions in Tennessee law calling for women to receive “informed consent” information about the surgery and to wait 48 hours before they receive an abortion.
The court also ruled against a state requirement that all abortions after the first trimester be performed in a hospital. That ruling made Tennessee more liberal than the U.S. Supreme Court required in Roe v. Wade and made the right to abortion a “fundamental right” in Tennessee.
“This resolution was a long time coming,” said Senator Beavers. “I am very pleased it has finally passed. It will enable Tennessee to begin the process to restore the right of the people to decide through their elected legislature regarding what Tennessee law should be regarding abortions within the bounds of federal court decisions. The only way to restore the people’s voice is to change the Constitution and give the legislature authority to write commonsense laws.”
The resolution would allow citizens to amend Tennessee’s Constitution to say that the right to an abortion is only protected under the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court. It would give the people the right, through their elected state representatives and senators, to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape, incest or life of the mother. Beavers said the practical effect of the resolution would be to bring Tennessee back into a position of neutrality so the people’s elected representatives can decide within the bounds of federal decisions what protections can be put into place.
The bill is co-sponsored by Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville), Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville), Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), Senator Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), Senator Steve Southerland (R-Morristown), Senator Ken Yager (R-Harriman), Senator Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville), Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), Senator Jamie Woodson (R-Knoxville), Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville), Senator Doug Overbey (R-Maryville), Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), Senator Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), Senator Jim Summerville (R-Dickson), Senator Mike Faulk (R-Church Hill), Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson), Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield), Senator Doug Henry (D-Nashville), and Senator Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge).
If approved by a super majority in the House of Representatives, citizens could expect to see the resolution on the ballot in November 2014.