Tennessee Organizations Call On Fowler To Stop Misleading The Public On SJR127

Affiliate: ACLU of Tennessee
April 29, 2008 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Tennessee
Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

CONTACT: Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN, 615-320-7142 or 7143

Keri Adams, PPMET, 615-438-6070

Holly Spann, WPC-TN, hollyspann@hotmail.com

Five Tennessee organizations joined forces today to declare that state legislators should look beyond the election year rhetoric of the promoters of SJR127, including former State Senator-turned-lobbyist David Fowler. “Just say NO is our message,” according to Judy Poulson, President of the League of Women Voters of Tennessee.

“The League has long opposed changing the state constitution on an issue-by-issue basis,” Poulson continued. “Why would the right to privacy in Article VI be taken away from one group and one group only, namely pregnant women?”

“The rhetoric is insulting to women,” said Tennessee Women’s Political Caucus spokesperson Holly Spann. “You don’t have to amend the state constitution to pass meaningful legislation discouraging abortion, as the state legislature has demonstrated in the past.”

The group, which also includes the Nashville Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU of Tennessee, accuses Fowler of misleading the public by arguing that a state law banning partial birth abortion is unenforceable unless the state constitution is amended. Fowler himself was a sponsor of the state law, passed in 1997, but has only recently invoked partial birth abortions as a reason to pass SJR127.

Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN Executive Director, points out, “There is a Federal law the Tennessee Attorney General says makes it crystal clear that a ban on the procedure exists. Tennessee doctors are required to adhere to the Federal Law and would face criminal charges were they to perform the procedure. It is unforgivable that the Family Action Council and Eagle Forum are attempting to deceive the public and intimidate legislators with false information.” Weinberg continues, “David Fowler again twists the truth when he says the Federal Ban only covers procedures involved in interstate commerce. I would like him to tell us which procedures would not involve interstate commerce. The Federal Ban prohibits these procedures from taking place in Tennessee.”

“Why wasn’t anyone ranting about partial birth abortion when this unnecessary constitutional change was being debated for the last six or seven years?” asked Planned Parenthood spokesperson Keri Adams. “Guess why there has been no legal challenge to the state statute on partial birth abortions? No one does them. There’s a federal ban. It’s a non-issue, but it gets people all worked up anyway.”

The group is urging House members to leave the bill in a subcommittee that voted SJR127 down several weeks ago. Fowler is seeking an unusual vote on the House floor to pull the bill out of the subcommittee. Such a move would require 66 of the 99 House members to support it in order for the resolution to be considered.

SJR127 was passed by the State Senate earlier in 2008 after several attempts to amend it to exempt the victims of rape and incest from its provisions were defeated.

“That is the biggest problem for SJR127,” Spann concludes. “It’s so extreme that it doesn’t even guarantee protection for the victims of rape and incest or to save a woman’s life. Maybe someone should ask Fowler why he fought the Senate amendments to do so since it would have had more support in the House if those had been added.”

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