Posts Tagged ‘Tennessee Right to Life’
Now that the vote is in, there are important lessons to be learned, not just in Tennessee, but nationally as well.
1. Until we change public opinion, Amendment 1 (along with the anticipated ensuing regulations) are about as much as we can hope to accomplish with our current strategy. An outright ban would not have passed.
Voters believe that abortion is evil enough to be regulated, but not evil enough to be banned. Americans will not tolerate government intrusion into matters of personal morality, unless there is extreme justification for that intrusion … and they don’t understand how extremely evil abortion really is.
2. In order for the public to demand protection for every human person, we have to convince millions of American voters that abortion is not just evil, but so evil that it ought to be against the law.
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), along with NRLC affiliates and others in the movement, are trying to end abortion by mobilizing public opinion as it currently exists. The results of Amendment 1 in Tennessee and initiatives in other states demonstrate that this will never work.
Unfortunately, they have nothing in place that even begins to reshape public opinion, not at the level necessary to challenge the status quo.
3. In order to reshape public opinion, we must force millions of ignorant and apathetic Americans to see the facts they are desperate to avoid.
They are apathetic because they are ignorant of the facts, and …
… they are ignorant because they are apathetic.
They don’t read our stuff. They don’t come to our talks and debates. They avoid new information.
We have to go to them, they will not come to us. Our methods must be non-consentual.
With the average American, we get maybe 3 seconds to prove that abortion is so evil that it ought to be against the law.
This is the same problem faced by Wilberforce, Clarkson, King, Hine, and other reformers who came before. They all solved the problem the same way … by using horrifying pictures to engage citizens who were desperate to avoid the truth … after years of trying what didn’t work.
4. We have a long way to go. Let’s get started.
Congratulations to Tennessee Right to Life (TRL) on a major pro-life victory in Tennessee. After 14 years of planning and laying the groundwork, Tennessee Amendment 1, which clears the way for the Tennessee Legislature to enact modest regulations on the abortion industry, passed with 52.6% of the vote.
Special kudos to TRL President Brian Harris and all of the TRL chapters who made this big win possible with an outstanding grassroots effort that reached into every county in the state.
The abortion industry spent more than $4,000,000 on clever and often deceptive advertising, even claiming that Amendment 1 would ban abortion in the state (which is ludicrous because Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton prevents a state from banning abortion).
In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court struck down abortion regulations that were passed with bipartisan support in a legislature still controlled by Democrats at that time. The Court invented a right to abortion that simply is not present in the Tennessee Constitution. As a result, the citizens of Tennessee were forced to pass this amendment, which only clarifies that the Tennessee Constitution contains no right to abortion.
The kind of regulations which might now be considered by the Legislature cannot effectively prohibit abortions, but they have been shown to save babies and moms in other states. Of course, any regulations passed by the Legislature will be subject to the limitations of Roe v Wade, Doe v Bolton, and any judgments of the Federal courts.
It is unclear at this time whether (1) the restrictions passed 15 years ago will go into effect immediately, now that the “Constitutional” prohibition has been eliminated, or (2) new regulations will have to be passed by the Legislature.
Tennessee Right to Life continues to press Governor Bill Haslam to take steps to yank the taxpayer funding the Planned Parenthood abortion business receives from the state.
“As much as 55% of certain Planned Parenthood salaries are funded through contracts with the Tennessee Department of Health, said [Tennessee Right to Life President Brian] Harris. “These same employees spend at least part of every work day promoting and/or participating in abortions at Planned Parenthood … no tax payer should be forced to subsidize the salary of any organization’s employees that participate in the harming of women and the killing of helpless unborn children.
Full story here.
Background story here.
Gov. Haslam’s statement here.
Tennessee Right to Life (TRL) is announcing major legislative victories in the most recent Legislature. From TRL (edited by FAB for space):
Unprecedented Pro-Life Victories: SJR 127 Wins Place on 2014 Ballot, Public Gets Vote on Radical Pro-Abortion Ruling
More than a decade after the Tennessee Supreme Court issued a wrong and radical ruling claiming a ‘fundamental’ right to abortion in the Tennessee Constitution, bi-partisan super majorities in the General Assembly have sent the matter for Tennesseans to decide in a public vote during the next governor’s election in 2014. “At long last the people of Tennessee will have their say in this matter of life and death,” said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life. ”Should a handful of activist judges make Tennessee’s laws on abortion or should it be the people acting through their elected representatives in the state Legislature? We are confident that when it’s all said and done, the power for deciding such questions will be returned to the people,” Harris said.
As required for every proposed amendment to the state Constitution, SJR 127 passed for the first time in 2009 by votes of 77-21 in the state House and 23-9 in the state Senate. Requirement for super-majority during second passage was achieved in 2011 by votes of 76-18 in the state House and 24-8 in the state Senate.
SJR 127 calls for a public voters to approve inclusion of the following language in the Tennessee Constitution:
Nothing in this 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, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.
As written the proposed amendment does not criminalize abortion but overturns the Court’s pro-abortion ruling, returns the Tennessee Constitution to a position of neutrality on abortion and allows the people of the state and their elected legislators to again enact meaningful protections for women and unborn children in our state.
While the Court’s 2000 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist makes it impossible to enforceprotections that violate the state’s newly discovered ‘right to abortion,’ Tennessee Right to Life has encouraged passage of policies which do not directly challenge the Court’s holding. Several such pro-life protections were passed by overwhelming bi-partisan majorities in the final days of the legislative session including:
- State Budget Amendment to Bar Funding for Planned Parenthood. Further tightens 2009 effort by requiring that federal Title X family planning funds shall be used fully by local, county or municipal health departments and that no funds shall be disbursed to private non-profit organizations or agencies. Diverts $1.2 million tax dollars from Planned Parenthood affiliates in Nashville and Memphis. Passed unanimously as part of final budget approval.
- Expansion of Tennessee’s Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Extends current state law to include unborn children prior to viability as victims of assault or homicide. Previous statute was only enforceable following establishment of child’s viability. Passed House 80-0 and Senate 26-0.
[Note: if you wish to read the remainder of the TRL announcement, click here.]
Hats off to TRL for their tireless work on behalf of these legislative victories. And hats off to pro-life people all over Tennessee who worked to elect pro-life candidates.
But some in the pro-life movement are not convinced that victories such as these are really a good thing. More about that later!