Special Pro-Life Report
Constitutional Amendments - Adds new provision to Article I to provide that nothing in Constitution of Tennessee secures or protects right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion; states that 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
As we go through this extended process it is vital that this effort is understood: The narrow, singular purpose of SJR 127 is to overturn the Planned Parenthood vs. Sundquist State Supreme Court decision which ruled that the Tennessee Constitution contains a fundamental right to abortion even broader than that affirmed by Roe v. Wade at the federal level. This was a 4-1 decision with Justice Micky Barker casting the lone dissent.
As a result, common sense state laws passed by the Tennessee Legislature were immediately stripped away including informed consent for women considering abortion, a 48 hour waiting period, and hospitalization for second and third trimester abortions. The passage of SJR 127 would simply return the Constitution to where is was for over 130 years -- neutral on abortion and return to Tennesseans their right to determine what state policy regarding abortion will be.
Senator Diane Black (R-Gallatin) did an excellent job of presenting SRJ 127 in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, March 11. It will be very instructive to watch the debate and see how Sen. Jim Kyle (D-Memphis) and Sen. Doug Jackson (D-Dickson) did their best to undermine the purpose of this proposal. Of course, Senator Beverly Marrero (D-Memphis) just openly opposes the resolution. Video Streaming HERE, put your cursor on the little blue slide and move it to 1:21:34 on the counter.
She started by reading a portion of Justice Barker's excellent dissent: "...the effect of the Court's holding today is to remove from the people all power, except by constitutional amendment, to enact reasonable regulations of abortion. Rather than leaving policy decisions regarding reasonable regulation to the General Assembly, this Court has converted itself into a roving constitutional convention, which sees itself free to strike down the duly enacted laws of the legislature for no other reason that it feels they are burdensome and unwise."
Right on cue Sen. Jim Kyle produced an amendment to put INTO the constitution rape, incest and life of the mother exceptions which, of course, undermines the effort to make the Constitution once again neutral.
Sen. Black moved to table that amendment.
Voting to Table: Black, Bunch, Faulk, Overbey, Stanley, Beavers. Voting NO: Jackson, Kyle, Marerro.
Then Sen. Jackson got started and proposed adding a 'life of the mother' exception amendment. Sen. Kyle wanted to keep the resolution in committee for further discussion (as if that would change anything!), then they wanted to recess to hear from the Attorney General's office. A vote was taken to recess:
Voting Against recess: Black, Bunch, Faulk, Overbey, Stanley, Beavers. Voting Yes: Jackson, Kyle, Marrero.
Again Jackson pushed his amendment. It was pointed our that abortion to save the life of the mother is available now and will be after the passage of SJR 127.
Sen. Black moved to table amendment:
Voting to Table: Black, Bunch, Faulk, Overbey, Stanley, Beavers. Voting No: Jackson, Kyle, Marrero.
Senators Kyle and Jackson are both attorneys. I cannot imagine that they don't understand the focus of SJR 127 and continually try to undermine its purpose.
FINAL vote on SJR 127 to move it out of the Committee:
Voting YES: Black, Bunch, Faulk, Overbey, Stanley, Beavers. Voting NO: Kyle, Marrero. 'Passing': Jackson.
Now it will be sent to the Senate Floor where the State Constitution requires that it be read three times on three separate days. A floor vote will be taken on the third reading.
ACTION ITEM: Contact your state SenatorHERE and URGE him or her to vote YES on SJR 127.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES PUBLIC HEARING:
It hard to know where to begin in reporting on this hearing that started about 3:00 p.m. and went on for several hours.
When this 'hearing' was announced, it came as a surprise to the pro-life community and many wondered about the real purpose. As the afternoon unfolded, it became clear that the purpose was to distract, confuse and misrepresent what SJR 127 really does.
Rep. Henry Fincher (D-Cookeville) presented HJR 61 which, despite his denials, the grammar would not only insert exceptions into the State Constitution, it would also insert abortion funding into that document. Hardly what the goal of SJR 127 is, which is simply to 'neutralize' the Constitution on the issue.
Sponsors of amendments similar to SJR 127, Rep. Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville) and Rep. Charlie Curtiss (D-Sparta) did a good job of presenting their positions and then introduced Paul Linton, Esq. for his testimony.
I want to URGE you to watch at least one portion when Paul Linton, Esq., an expert in abortion and State Constitutions, made his excellent presentation to the Health and Human Resources Committee. Every supporter, layman and legislator should consider this 'required training' for understanding this issue. Video streaming HERE, place your cursor on the blue slide and move it to 47:25 on the counter.
For sheer 'high drama' you may want to watch Rep. Karen Camper (D-Memphis) present HJR 132 about vasectomies. Go to link above and move blue slide to 1:59.
Rep. Jeannie Richardson (D-Memphis) presented an philosophical discussion about when life beings, when the soul enters the body, is the soul in sperm, etc.
Interestingly, the opponents of SJR 127, Planned Parenthood, ACLU, the Women's Political Caucus and others, presented NO legal argument and offered no testimony from a legal expert. They presented a couple of female pro-abortion OB-GYNs who did not address SJR 127, but spoke about the 'hard cases' of abortion, birth control and sex education. A women who was carrying a baby with Trisomy 18 and wanted to get a second trimester abortion who testified that she could not get the procedure here in Tennessee. She was sent to an Atlanta Clinic for the procedure. (This has nothing to do with SJR 127.) Because of mistakes in paper work she was unable to have the abortion and was told she would have to return. She decided not to return to Atlanta and let 'nature take its course'. Another presenter from a clinic spoke of the need for comprehensive sex education.
Freshman Representatives Vance Dennis (R-Savannah) and Josh Evans (R-Greenbrier) made excellent comments in defense of SJR 127.
Other bills were briefly addressed, some of which may be in subcommittee next week. Be sure to check the Legislative Update that will go our on Saturday.
Bottom line -- the battle lines are drawn and EVERYONE must be involved in this effort to 'neutralize' the State Constitution by contacting your legislators.