Tennesseans Respond to 2000 Abortion Decision with Increased Pro-Life Majorities at Legislature, SJR 127
OR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 21, 2011 10:00 a.m. CST
Contact: Brian Harris
Tennesseans Respond to 2000 Abortion Decision with
Increased Pro-Life Majorities at Legislature, SJR 127
(Nashville) A decade after the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the Tennessee Constitution contains a "fundamental right to abortion," pro-life Tennesseans continue to respond with efforts to overturn the Court's 2001 decision. And while much of the struggle has focused on legislative passage of SJR 127, the election of candidates supportive of the resolution has also been a key objective for pro-life leaders. According to Tennessee Right to Life, one effect of the Court's abortion ruling is a significantly altered legislative landscape since the time of the Court's ruling in 2000.
"With each defeat of SJR 127, pro-life advocates made clear that we would remember in November," said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life. "Opposition has proven to be our friend in helping to strengthen the Legislature's pro-life majorities," said Harris. "With each set back our numbers increased while those opposing SJR 127 continue to be defeated,"
Unlike efforts in some other states, the proposed amendment to the state Constitution does not seek to criminalize abortion. Instead, the language nullifies the pro-abortion-rights ruling of the state Supreme Court and makes the Constitution neutral once again on the matter of abortion. If passed this session and approved by voters in 2014, SJR 127 would return authority for abortion regulation to elected legislators who could enact any number of pro-life policies---or none.
Having passed the state Senate 5 times since 2001, the resolution was routinely defeated each time in hostile state House sub-committees. Then in 2009, newly-elected Speaker Kent Williams made passage of SJR 127 a public priority, clearing the way for easy bi-partisan passage, 77-21.
Since 2001, the struggle to pass SJR 127 has made the issue a litmus test for the election of many state lawmakers, contributing to the defeat of some who actively opposed the pro-life measure and the election of many more who pledged to support both the pro-life movement and the measure.
"When we started the push for SJR 127 in 2001, we had just a handful of legislators that we could realistically count on to do what was needed to help the unborn," said Harris. "But today the tide has turned and now it's our opponents who have only a handful willing to promote the pro-abortion cause," Harris said. "SJR 127 demonstrates so well what can happen if you stand your ground, focus your resources and refuse to give up or go away."