A Quiet Victory at the U.S. Supreme Court

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A Quiet Victory at the U.S. Supreme Court

Life goes on at the Supreme Court, vacancy or no. Last Mon­day, on the open­ing day of the term, the Court announced that it will not hear a chal­lenge to a 2014 Ten­nessee bal­lot mea­sure, Amend­ment 1, which stated “noth­ing in this [state] Con­sti­tu­tion secures or pro­tects a right to abor­tion.” Or, if you pre­fer, look at the news through the lens of The Ten­nessean: the Jus­tices declined to hear a chal­lenge to “a bal­lot mea­sure that elim­i­nated the right to an abor­tion from the Ten­nessee state constitution.”

Thumbs up to the Supreme Court on this one.

The bal­lot mea­sure approved by Ten­nessee vot­ers four years ago was a cor­rec­tive mea­sure to a state court’s 2000 “dis­cov­ery” in the state con­sti­tu­tion of a right to abor­tion that was broader than the abor­tion rights cov­ered under Roe v. Wade. Courts in sev­eral states have made sim­i­lar rul­ings. The rem­edy to such rul­ings is an abortion-​neutrality con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment like the one passed by Ten­nessee vot­ers four years ago: noth­ing in our Con­sti­tu­tion secures or pro­tects a right to abortion.

More from The Ten­nessean: the exec­u­tive direc­tor of Ten­nessee Advo­cates for Planned Par­ent­hood called Amend­ment 1 “another attack on women’s rights and the abil­ity of indi­vid­u­als to make per­sonal deci­sions for them­selves.” That claim might or might not have come as a sur­prise to the women who made their own deci­sions to sup­port Amend­ment 1.

Accord­ing to the Fam­ily Action Coun­cil of Ten­nessee (FACT), a pro-​life advo­cacy group, the pas­sage of Amend­ment 1 led to swift adop­tion of some pro-​life legislation.

Dur­ing the 2015 leg­isla­tive ses­sion, we made progress on a cou­ple of mea­sures related to Amend­ment 1 that were signed into law: first, a 48-​hour wait­ing period with in-​person coun­sel­ing by a physi­cian prior to an abor­tion, which was signed into law by Gov. Haslam on May 18, 2015, and, sec­ond, the new require­ment that all clin­ics in Ten­nessee per­form­ing more than 50 sur­gi­cal abor­tions per year be reg­u­lated as ambu­la­tory surgery treat­ment cen­ters. The new reg­u­la­tions took effect July 1, 2015.

So are abor­tions banned in Ten­nessee? Hardly. What Amend­ment 1 restored, and what the U.S. Supreme Court just tac­itly endorsed, is the sit­u­a­tion that pre­vailed in the Vol­un­teer State before 2000: abor­tion is legal, and so are state reg­u­la­tions con­sis­tent with Roe.

Ellen Kolb is a New Hamp­shire writer who blogs about the life issues at leav​en​forth​e​loaf​.com and ellenkolb​.com.

You can sup­port DaTechGuy’s team by hit­ting DaTip­Jar. Thanks!

Life goes on at the Supreme Court, vacancy or no. Last Monday, on the opening day of the term, the Court announced that it will not hear a challenge to a 2014 Tennessee ballot measure, Amendment 1, which stated “nothing in this [state] Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion.” Or, if you prefer, look at the news through the lens of The Tennessean the Justices declined to hear a challenge to “a ballot measure that eliminated the right to an abortion from the Tennessee state constitution.”

Thumbs up to the Supreme Court on this one.

The ballot measure approved by Tennessee voters four years ago was a corrective measure to a state court’s 2000 “discovery” in the state constitution of a right to abortion that was broader than the abortion rights covered under Roe v. Wade. Courts in several states have made similar rulings. The remedy to such rulings is an abortion-neutrality constitutional amendment like the one passed by Tennessee voters four years ago: nothing in our Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion. 

More from The Tennessean: the executive director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood called Amendment 1 “another attack on women’s rights and the ability of individuals to make personal decisions for themselves.” That claim might or might not have come as a surprise to the women who made their own decisions to support Amendment 1.

According to the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), a pro-life advocacy group, the passage of Amendment 1 led to swift adoption of some pro-life legislation.

During the 2015 legislative session, we made progress on a couple of measures related to Amendment 1 that were signed into law: first, a 48-hour waiting period with in-person counseling by a physician prior to an abortion, which was signed into law by Gov. Haslam on May 18, 2015, and, second, the new requirement that all clinics in Tennessee performing more than 50 surgical abortions per year be regulated as ambulatory surgery treatment centers. The new regulations took effect July 1, 2015.

So are abortions banned in Tennessee? Hardly. What Amendment 1 restored, and what the U.S. Supreme Court just tacitly endorsed, is the situation that prevailed in the Volunteer State before 2000: abortion is legal, and so are state regulations consistent with Roe.

Ellen Kolb is a New Hampshire writer who blogs about the life issues at leavenfortheloaf.com and ellenkolb.com. 

You can support DaTechGuy’s team by hitting DaTipJar. Thanks!