News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) and Representative Rick Womick (R-Rockvale) announced today they will not seek passage of a bill this year to require abortion providers show or describe an ultrasound image to a woman before the procedure can be performed. The lawmakers said they will focus on passage of Senator Joint Resolution (SJR) 127, a pivotal constitutional amendment initiative which will come before voters in 2014 that would allow the legislature to put abortion laws into place within the bounds of “Roe v. Wade.”
“This constitutional resolution is the cornerstone of future legislation to protect life in Tennessee,” said Senator Tracy. “We will be focusing all of our efforts on promoting its passage on the 2014 ballot.”
Tracy was a co-prime sponsor of SJR 127, which was passed by the General Assembly in the 106th and 107th General Assemblies. It addresses a State Supreme Court decision in 2000 that struck down provisions in Tennessee law allowing women to receive “informed consent” information about the surgery and to wait 48 hours before they receive an abortion. The state’s high court also ruled against a state requirement that all abortions after the first trimester be performed in a hospital. That ruling made Tennessee more liberal than the U.S. Supreme Court required in “Roe v. Wade” and made the right to an abortion a “fundamental right” in Tennessee. SJR 127, if adopted, provides that the right to an abortion is only protected under the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Brian Harris, President of Tennessee Right to Life said, “Pro-life Tennesseans are especially grateful for Senator Tracy’s resolve to ensure that the focus is not distracted from what remains the single most important pro-life objective: public approval of SJR 127 by voters in 2014.”
“We are very blessed in Tennessee to have legislators who are firmly and unequivocally committed to life,” said Bobbie Patray, President of Tennessee’s chapter of Eagle Forum. “Tennessee Eagle Forum commends Senator Jim Tracy and Rep. Rick Womick for recognizing the foundational impact of SJR 127. They clearly understand the educational challenge before us, and we are grateful that they will be focusing their time and energy on the passage of this proposed amendment the State Constitution. Tennessee is an overwhelmingly pro-life state, and they are setting an example that we hope the voters will follow as we approach the vote in November of 2014!”
“As the original sponsor of SJR 127, I’ve always had the strong support of Senator Tracy and Rep. Womick, who I didn’t get to serve with, is cut from the same cloth, added David Fowler, President of FACT (Family Action Council of Tennessee). “I applaud their desire that all pro-life efforts for the next year be focused on the most important pro-life issue in Tennessee history, the passage of SJR 127. I appreciate their leadership in making sure that nothing distracts from that overarching objective upon which all pro-life legislation in the future depends.”
“Given the fact that most abortion clinics in Tennessee already administer an ultrasound before performing an abortion, it only makes sense that we as legislators should be allowed to ensure that the pregnant mother is given the opportunity to see the video and hear the heartbeat,” added Representative Womick. “Actively seeking adoption of SJR 127 to our State Constitution will afford lawmakers that opportunity.”
Update note: Here’s a news release from Planned Parenthood on the move:
Statement of Jeff Teague, President/CEO of Planned Parenthood of Middle & East TN
on the Withdrawal of Mandatory Ultrasound Bill by Senator Tracy
“While we are pleased that Senator Tracy withdrew his mandatory ultrasound bill, we recognize this move for what it is – a disgusting display of hypocrisy and a calculated political move to try to ensure passage of SJR127, the proposed constitutional amendment that would remove privacy protection from our constitution and lead to abortion being banned in Tennessee. He, like other anti-woman opponents of abortion in the General Assembly, knows that passage of this ultrasound bill would have undermined their reasoning and justification for SJR127.
Opponents of safe, legal abortion claim that SJR127 is necessary to allow passage of laws to restrict and regulate abortion, yet the General Assembly has continued to pass laws that make it more difficult for women to access safe, legal abortion and that place unnecessary and burdensome regulations on abortion providers. Specifically, last year, the General Assembly passed a law requiring admitting privileges for well-trained physicians who provide abortion. As a result, women in Tennessee now have fewer options when seeking abortion services.
At Planned Parenthood, we believe that women deserve all of the information they need to make informed and private decisions about their health care. For decades, we’ve been the place for women to turn to for accurate information about all pregnancy options. We oppose any attempt to violate their right to privacy, and restrict their ability to access legal healthcare care.”