Roe v. Wade Is Bad, But It’s Even Worse in Tennessee

Today marks the day that, forty years ago, our United States Supreme Court decided that somewhere in the penumbras of our U.S. Constitution was a right to abortion, a right to terminate a pregnancy, a right to end the life of another human being.

The vast majority of Tennesseans know about that infamous decision, Roe v. Wade.  But probably ninety percent of Tennesseans of almost every demographic don’t know about Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee v. Sundquist, decided over ten years ago on September 15, 2000.

The Planned Parenthood case was our own state Supreme Court’s foray into the war against the unborn, finding in our state Constitution a “fundamental right” to abortion that is even broader than Roe v. Wade.  Though a pro-life state politically, Tennessee is one of only sixteen states with a state constitutional right to abortion, and the only state in the entire Southeast without at least an informed consent law or a waiting period law!

As the result of Planned Parenthood, laws regulating abortion that have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court are “constitutionally suspect” under our state Supreme Court-created constitutional right to abortion.1

In other words, Roe v. Wade and abortion rights under the U.S. Constitution are bad.  But it’s worse in Tennessee.

But you can do something about what happened in Tennessee.

First, you can encourage your legislators to let you vote on a constitutional amendment known as Senate Joint Resolution 2 that would give the people at least some means of holding someone accountable for who sits on our state Supreme Court.  Right now, there is virtually none.

Second, you can prepare now to get the word out about Senate Joint Resolution 127, a proposed amendment to our state constitution that you will get to vote on in 2014. That amendment would reverse our state Supreme Court’s decision in Planned Parenthood and put Tennessee back on equal footing with the vast majority of its fellow states.

We debate legal niceties like whether this human organism is a “person” within the legal meaning of the protection afforded persons under the Constitution, but we cannot deny the essence of that which is aborted.  It is a human being.

1  For example, the state Attorney General has opined that a state law banning partial birth abortion that mirrors the language of the federal statute banning partial birth abortions involved in interstate commerce would be “constitutionally suspect” under our state Supreme Court’s interpretation of our state Constitution.  State of Tennessee, Office of the Attorney General, Opinion No. 08-40, February 29, 2008, found at