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Pro-lifers urge passage of legislation

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The Amendment reads, "Nothing in this Constitution (the Tennessee 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."

At the present time SJR 127 is still just a bill, which has failed to make it out of the Public Health and Family Assistance Committee, according to the Tennessee House Committee website.

Members of the committee voted against the measure 6 to 3. The three representatives voting to send the bill on were Republicans Chris Crider, Tom DuBois and Debra Young Maggart. Representatives voting against the bill were Democrats Lois DeBerry, Joanne Favors, Sherry Jones, Mary Pruitt, Jeanne Richardson and Joe E. Armstrong.

If the House does not override this vote and call the bill to the floor for a vote in the next two or three weeks, it won’t be possible to put it on the ballot for a popular vote until 2014, Fowler said

Pro-life groups, like Family Action, are quick to point out that this amendment would allow the state legislature to outlaw partial-birth abortions even though federal law already prohibits the procedure.

Fowler and Bobbie Patray, president of the Tennessee Eagle Forum, came to Lebanon this week to ask voters to go to their website and sign a petition there and e-mail legislators requesting action, so the amendment can be on the 2010 ballot.

Partial Birth Abortion is, according to Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary, "A surgical abortion that is typically performed during the third trimester or later part of the second trimester of pregnancy and in which the uterine cervix is dilated and death of the fetus is induced after it has passed partway through the birth canal."

Adding the amendment to the Tennessee Constitution would change the current situation. Right now Tennessee allows all types of abortion, since in 2000 the Tennessee Supreme court ruled that the state constitution’s guarantees of right to privacy include the right to decide to have an abortion.

Specifically the ruling said laws restricting abortion by requiring a waiting period and "informed consent" were unconstitutional, according to the Supreme Court website.

The informed consent law required the doctor who would be performing the abortion to tell the woman that "abortion in a considerable number of cases constitutes a major surgical procedure," then the women had to wait two days before she could sign the forms requesting the abortion.

Adding this amendment to the state constitution would also allow the state legislature to reinstate those restrictions on abortion as well as others if they voted to do so.

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