VOL. 126 | NO. 100 | Monday, May 23, 2011
Tenn. Anti-Abortion Measure Headed for 2014 Ballot
LUCAS L. JOHNSON II | Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposed constitutional amendment to allow the state to impose stricter limits on abortions will go before voters in 2014 after the House gave final approval to the measure on a 76-18 vote Friday.
The resolution sponsored by Republican Rep. Debra Maggart of Hendersonville says "nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion."
If adopted by voters, the measure would void a 2000 state Supreme Court ruling that threw out mandatory 48-hour waiting periods before abortions could take place and requirements that clinics provide detailed information about the procedure and that all but first-term abortions be performed in hospitals.
The measure easily cleared the two-thirds' majorities required in both chambers to be placed on the ballot.
Democratic Rep. John Deberry of Memphis said a lot of his constituents are concerned about "protection of the unborn."
"While we as Democrats talk about caring for the helpless and being a voice for the voiceless, is there anyone more helpless and voiceless than a child in the womb?" Deberry said. "And I think it is my responsibility to protect them."
As in the past, lawmakers failed to approve an amendment to the resolution that would support abortions in "cases involving rape or incest or in cases where the procedure is medically necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman."
Maggart said she wasn't surprised to see the proposal once again.
"They've tried that same amendment time and time again," she said. "Everyone knows that putting amendments on SJR127 jeopardizes its ability to withstand a court challenge."
Jeff Teague, the president of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, issued a statement deriding passage of the bill. He said more common-sense prevention measures are needed, such as "comprehensive sexuality education and broader access to family planning services like low-cost, affordable birth control."
"We should all focus on how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and how to offer women who have unplanned pregnancies the resources and support they need," he said.
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