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Tennessee Senate votes to remove abortion right from state constitution

[JURIST] The Tennessee Senate [official website] on Thursday passed a bill [SJR 127 text, PDF] to remove from Tennessee constitutional law any guarantees of a woman's right to abortion. The vote was 24-9. Under Tennessee law, both chambers of the General Assembly must approve the change in two separate votes over the next two years before voters have a chance to rule on a constitutional amendment. The amendment contemplated by SJR 127 reads "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or the funding thereof." If approved, the amendment would effectively overturn the 2000 Tennessee Supreme Court ruling in Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee v. Sundquist [text, PDF] holding that the state Constitution [PDF] encompassed a “fundamental” right to abortion. Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee [advocacy website; SJR 127 alert, PDF], called the vote an "all-out attack on the women of Tennessee" that "seeks to rob women of their right to make choices about their own health, safety and personal welfare."

Tennessee is one of several states considering restrictions on abortion and possible challenges to the 1973 US Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade [text]. South Dakota governor Mike Rounds signed a bill into law [JURIST report] Monday that would ban all abortions in that state except those necessary to save a mother's life. AP has more.

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