Abortion amendment one step closer to Tennessee ballot

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April 19, 2011


NASHVILLE, Tennessee: A proposed abortion amendment moved one step closer to the 2014 statewide ballot following a Senate vote of 24-8 on Monday, April 18. The measure would ask voters to decide whether there should be a "fundamental right" to abortion.[1][2]

In order to qualify a proposed amendment for the ballot the Tennessee General Assembly must approve the measure in two successive sessions. In the second such session, the proposed amendment must earn 2/3rds approval, however, in the first session, it only needs majority approval.

The proposed amendment would reverse a 2000 ruling by the Tennessee Supreme Court that stated that the state constitution's right to privacy afforded greater protections for abortion than the United States Constitution. The case was Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist.[3]

Specifically, the measure would add a new section the Tennessee Constitution. According to the filed text, the section would read:

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.

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