Pro-life protesters flooded into Washington this afternoon to voice their opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which not only made abortion legal in parts of the country where it previously had not been, but also took away a State’s right to regulate abortion (or more accurately, aborticide) as they saw fit. It was Roe v. Wade and its companion decision Doe v. Bolton that served as the basis for the Tennessee Supreme Court’s decision in Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist in 2000 which vacated common-sense abortion restrictions such as a 24-hour waiting period.
Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist was seen by abortion supporters as a great victory when it was decided, but that ruling would set the stage for a long attempt to amend the State Constitution that would only begin to be successful in last year’s legislative session, with the first of two constitutionally-mandated votes passing both Houses of the General Assembly by an overwhelming margin. The effort to pass SJR 127 was by no means exclusive to legislators from East Tennessee, but former House Republican Leader Bill Dunn, and Vice Chairman of the Knox County legislative delegation Rep. Stacey Campfield (R), both of Knoxville, have been among the leaders pushing for the passage of the constitutional amendment. The proposed alteration to the Tennessee Constitution states that nothing in the document can be construed to mean that there is a “right to abortion” in Tennessee.
Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion organizations cannot rely on either the Legislature or the public to bolster their position in Tennessee law. These groups know that Statewide, they do not have the support of public sentiment, and as a result they don’t have support of the General Assembly or even (on paper) the support of the joint legislative Democratic Caucus. Hence, pro-abortion forces in Tennessee rely on the courts as their means to avoid popularly-accepted restrictions on abortion in this State.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade, if it did come about, would not necessarily mean that abortion would be against the law. It would make it a matter for each State to decide whether or not abortion would be restricted or outlawed within its borders-something many States would likely do. It would not be unreasonable to believe that Tennessee would be among those States to restrict that barbaric practice if the situation allows it.