On Tuesday Tennessee voters will decide whether the Tennessee Constitution will remain more pro-abortion than the U.S. Constitution. Fourteen years ago the ACLU of Tennessee convinced the Tennessee Supreme Court to find a right to abortion under the state constitution. In Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee v. Sundquist, the ACLU argued that Tennessee’s Constitution, although its text is just as silent on abortion as its U.S. counterpart, actually provided a right to an abortion much more extreme than anything invented in Roe v. Wade.
A majority of the Tennessee Supreme Court bought the argument, requiring every state law regulating abortion to satisfy “strict scrutiny,” the most stringent test in constitutional law. As a result, health and safety standards for abortion clinics, informed consent, and waiting periods now common in other states have been declared unconstitutional in Tennessee.
The Volunteer State has been conscripted into service as the abortion destination for surrounding states. And Planned Parenthood and the state’s abortion industry reap the financial benefits of this traffic.
Amendment 1 would correct this misreading of the Tennessee Constitution by simply reaffirming that it is silent on abortion: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.” The U.S. Constitution, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s erroneous reading of it in Roe v. Wade, would continue to apply in Tennessee.
But one need not look long to see what the ACLU and Planned Parenthood would like to do to Tennessee if Amendment 1 fails. After persuading the California Supreme Court to interpret that state’s constitution to provide the same expanded abortion right as Tennessee’s, the ACLU and the abortion lobby have made California into their abortion playground. Upon their demands California courts have struck down parental consent and mandated taxpayer funding of abortion.
Were this not enough to establish the abortion extremism of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, just over two months ago they succeeded in persuading California bureaucrats to decree that every health insurance plan in the state must provide coverage of elective abortion. As a result, even churches in California are presently being forced to provide insurance coverage of abortion for their staff. And part of the legal argument for this mandate was that the
“California Constitution prohibits health plans from discriminating against women who choose to terminate a pregnancy. Thus, all health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally.”
The last time Tennessee imported ideas from California it got Lane Kiffin. Taxpayer funded abortions, parents out of their children’s healthcare decisions, and even churches forced to sacrifice their conscience on the altar of abortion. On Tuesday, Tennessee citizens can reject the ACLU’s vision for their state.
Casey Mattox (@CaseyMattoxADF) is Senior Counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom.