Thursday November 4, 2010

Pro-Life Sweep Takes Tennessee Legislature, Governorship

By Peter J. Smith

NASHVILLE, Tennessee, November 4, 2010 ( – Tennessee pro-life advocates now have strong pro-life majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, and the election of a new pro-life Republican governor means the way is clear for new pro-life legislation.

“We celebrate the overwhelming election of advocates in both parties who share our commitment to protecting human life in Tennessee,” said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life. “After years of being stonewalled by pro-abortion leaders, the voices of Tennessee’s pro-life majorities are at last being heard.”

Tennessee Right to Life emphasized that bipartisan wins helped create strong pro-life majorities. The GOP however, managed to add to the pro-life number by winning 14 seats away from Democrats in the state House of Representatives.

The political breakdown of the House is 64 Republicans, 34 Democrats, and one (1) independent. The breakdown of the state Senate is 20 Republicans and 13 Democrats.

Last session, a strong bipartisan pro-life majority worked together to pass a measure opting the state out of the new national health care reform’s abortion mandate. The measure (HB 2681 / SB 2686) had passed the House 70-23 and the Senate 27-3.

Democrat Gov. Phil Bredesen (who will now be succeeded by GOP Gov.-elect Bill Haslam) did not veto the law, as he faced veto-proof majorities. He let the law go into effect without his signature in May.

Tennessee pro-life leaders are especially looking forward for the opportunity to pass SJR 127, a constitutional amendment that would overturn a 2000 decision by the state Supreme Court which ruled that a right to abortion existed in the state constitution.

The high court’s decision in Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist ended up striking down Tennessee’s informed consent law, a 48-hour waiting period law, and a requirement that late-term abortions be performed in a hospital.

Pro-life advocates hope that making the constitution abortion neutral, and out of reach of state courts, will then help legislators move the ball forward on pro-life issues.

The amendment states: “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 circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”

The amendment was passed by the House and Senate in 2009. If both chambers of the General Assembly approve the measure by two-thirds majorities this session, then the matter will go to the public ballot for a vote by 2014.

See related coverage by

Massive Pro-Life Blowout in US Governor Races

Tennessee Abortion Opt-Out Becomes Law without Gov.’s Signature

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