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Tennessee Constitutional Amendment on Abortion to Go to Voters, Planned Parenthood Responds

May 22, 2011

SJR127, a joint resolution in the Tennessee legislature to “provide that nothing in Constitution of Tennessee secures or protects right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion,” has passed through the legislature. It will go to a public vote on the 2014 state ballot. The resolution has been raised for years, but never made it through both arms of the legislature until now.

Supporters argue that the change would Tennessean’s abortion rights in line with those in the rest of the country by making our state Constitution neutral on the matter. Voting in the change could allow further restrictions, and in the (presumably unlikely) event of a total Roe overturn, it would allow a state ban on abortion.

Naturally, I’m not too enthused about this move to make the bodily autonomy and individual decisions of all of my state’s women a matter for a popular vote. One in three of us have abortions in our lifetime and slightly more than half of Tennessee’s population are women, but I’m going to go on record now predicting that – barring a hugely successful campaign between now and 2014 – this measure is going to pass in the popular vote.

Here’s what Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee had to say about it.

TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVES CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO MAKE ABORTION ILLEGAL
Passage of SJR-127 is attack on the women of Tennessee

Nashville, TN — Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee (PPMET) criticized the Tennessee General Assembly for passage of SJR-127, a proposed constitutional amendment would make abortion illegal in Tennessee.

“SJR-127 is dangerous to health and lives of women we all know and love – our wives, daughters, sisters, friend and neighbors,” said Jeff Teague, President and CEO of PPMET. “This proposed amendment to our Constitution is about banning abortion. To say otherwise is insincere and, frankly, dishonest. It will allow for the gross intrusion of government into the privates lives and personal medical decisions of women in Tennessee.”

While a number of restrictions and regulations on abortion are already in place, supporters of the proposed amendment say that it is necessary to allow for “common sense” restrictions of abortion and because abortion is largely unregulated. Among the current restrictions on abortion are a ban on later-term abortion, parental consent for minors and informed consent.

“The number of abortions in Tennessee is declining – everyone agrees this is a positive trend – but SJR-127 does nothing to reduce unintended pregnancies or to help eliminate the need for abortion in Tennessee,” Teague states. “What we need are common sense prevention measures like 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.”

The contact for PPMET on the press release is as follows, in case you’re interested in drawing more attention to this issue:
Jeff Teague, President & CEO, (615) 345-0952

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