Johnson City Press Friday, July 3, 2015

Should the Tennessee Constitution allow more abortion regulation?

June 26th, 2014 4:39 pm by Johnson City Press

Should the Tennessee Constitution allow more abortion regulation?

A referendum on a proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution giving state legislators the power to impose greater limits on abortions will appear on the ballot in November. The amendment declares that “nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.”

The measure was brought after the state Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the state Constitution offers greater protection for abortion rights than the U.S. Constitution and threw out several restrictions on abortions. Those included a 48-hour waiting period before abortions, requiring abortion clinics to provide detailed information about the procedure and all but first-term abortions to be performed in hospitals.

Supporters of the referendum say they are trying to amend the state Constitution to bypass the Supreme Court ruling.

“This resolution is about getting the Constitution back to neutral ground,” the chief sponsor of the amendment, state Sen. Diane Black, R-Gallatin, told the Associated Press when the state General Assembly approved the measure in 2009. “The only way to restore these restrictions is to change the Constitution.”

During that debate on the referendum, lawmakers were unsuccessful in attaching an amendment that would have allowed lawmakers in the future to “enact the necessary law to ensure that a woman may choose to end her pregnancy whenever necessary to save the woman’s life.”

A poll conducted by Vanderbilt University in Nashville indicates a majority of Tennesseans are opposed to giving state legislators more control over abortion. The poll, which was released last month, asked the question: “Do you favor giving the state Legislature the constitutional authority to regulate abortions or do you oppose this?”

Seventy-one percent of respondents said they were opposed, while just 23 percent said they favor the idea. The rest were undecided.

We want to hear from you. Should the state Constitution be amended to give the General Assembly more power to regulate abortion in Tennessee?

Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks.

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