State Leaders Sound Off on Supreme Court Decision Made Friday

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 24) – In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey on the grounds that both cases were “wrongly decided,” and that the “Constitution does not contain a right to abortion.”

U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Tuesday introduced a resolution “celebrating the pro-life movement on its historic victory in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

“The Supreme Court decision is a victory for the pro-life movement and the volunteers who have supported mothers and children for the past 50 years,” said Senator Blackburn. “Pro-life supporters come together from different states, religions, professions, and backgrounds in order to fight for the lives of the unborn, and I look forward to empowering the work of these volunteers as they continue to fearlessly defend the right to life.”

“The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (referred to in this preamble as the ‘Supreme Court’) in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), was a blatant act of judicial activism that invented a constitutional right to abortion out of whole cloth, with no grounding in the text of the Constitution of the United States…More than 63,000,000 babies have been aborted in the United States since the decision of the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade…The decision in Roe v. Wade caused great damage to the democratic system of the United States by preventing citizens of the United States from making decisions about the legality of abortion and instead putting these decisions in the hands of unelected Federal judges,” the resolution stated.

In statements released by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Friday, he noted plans for support for the following programs:

Expanded Support for Families in Crisis

Supporting new and expecting mothers enrolled in TennCare by enhancing maternal health care coverage from 60 days to 12 months postpartum.

Expanding TennCare’s Health Starts Initiative to support maternal health and holistic care for mothers and children.

Reforming the TANF program to promote economic mobility and improve outcomes for parents and children.

Investments in Public-Private Partnerships

Launching Tennessee Fosters Hope, a public-private partnership, to ensure every Tennessee child has a safe, loving home and make the state the “most foster-friendly state in America.”

$433,000 to Psalm 139 Ministries to place ultrasounds in crisis pregnancy centers across the state

$1 million to Agape to support expecting and new mothers

“Today’s landmark Supreme Court decision marks the beginning of a hopeful, new chapter for our country,” said Gov. Lee. “After years of heartfelt prayer and thoughtful policy, America has an historic opportunity to support women, children and strong families while reconciling the pain and loss caused by Roe v. Wade. We have spent years preparing for the possibility that authority would return to the states, and Tennessee’s laws will provide the maximum possible protection for both mother and child. In the coming days, we will address the full impacts of this decision for Tennessee.”

In an op-ed submitted to media outlets earlier this week, State Sen. John Stevens noted what happens next in Tennessee and shared his views on Friday’s Supreme Court decision.

“Tennesseans affirmed their trust in themselves through their elected representatives in 2014 by

Pursuant to the 2019 Human Life Protection Act, also known as the “Trigger Law,” all abortions in Tennessee are illegal except where there is risk to the life of the mother.

“Even in those exceedingly rare instances where pregnancy alone poses a risk to the mother’s life, it is my opinion that each life deserves equal dignity and protection. I will fight to pass laws preserving such equal dignity,” Stevens added.

The Human Life Protection Act does not go into effect until 30 days after this past Friday, when the Dobbs opinion was officially released. In the meantime, Attorney General Herbert Slatery filed an emergency motion with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to dissolve the preliminary injunction enjoining enforcement of the 2020 Heartbeat bill which prohibits abortion after 6 weeks of gestation.

Under the Human Life Protection Act, it is a Class C felony for a person who performs or attempts to perform an abortion at any time during a woman’s pregnancy, unless it was performed to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman. Class C felonies are punishable by 3-15 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.00. Under the Human Life Protection Act, the mother cannot be punished. It does not contain an exception for rape or incest. Further, medical treatment that results in accidental death or unintentional injury to the unborn child are not violations of the law.

“The text of the Constitution does not refer to abortion and there is no implied right to abortion in any other constitutional clause. The Fourteenth Amendment has been held to guarantee rights not mentioned in the text of the Constitution but where a right is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” and “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty,” the Constitution has been found to protect such “liberty” rights. Because abortion was illegal in England and almost all States at the time of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment and at the time of the announcement of Roe in 1973, the right to abortion is clearly not “deeply rooted” in American law. I am thankful for the millions of people who worked and prayed and engaged their government to bring about this return to the rule of law to our Constitutional order,” the senator concluded.

The Tennessee Democratic Party responded to the Roe vs. Wade overturning with the following statements:

“This decision is a direct assault on the rights of Tennesseeans. The Court's interpretation of the constitution on this issue is flawed and a direct insertion of political activism on the highest court in the land. This decision made by a conservative majority on the court, will empower a radical majority serving in state legislatures across the country. Politicians will be even more emboldened by this decision to impose their most restrictive views on us. Today, an essential and lifesaving freedom was discarded by a court installed to protect it,” Hendrell Remus, TNDP Chair noted.

“Clearly, this is a blow to Americans everywhere, but in Tennessee, abortion is most at risk due to a trigger law that will outlaw abortion without the federal right. This trigger law now criminalizes any abortion unless necessary to prevent death or ‘serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.’ The abortion ban puts millions of Tennesseeans in danger and takes away their bodily autonomy,” the chair added.

“We are going to keep pushing back against anti-choice representatives and legislation any chance we get. The Tennessee Democratic Party will work to support pro-choice candidates and legislators as well as abortion rights groups in state. We’re prepared to fight for the safety and autonomy of Tennesseeans,” Brit Bender, TNDP Executive Director, noted.

Locally, Civil Rights advocates are planning a meeting for those who are looking to “to join in solidarity across NW Tennessee and harness our energy into a positive, constructive resistance to the destruction of our democracy.”

“We’ve had a lot of difficult days in recent years, but Friday, June 24, was a bit different! It became clear that nothing was safe or guaranteed, the highest court in the land was no longer an independent branch, and even control of our bodies was no longer a personal decision or protected within our laws. We’re writing to you with a heavy heart but not a broken spirit! We are not victims, and we cannot allow the repeal of Roe v. Wade to happen and remain quiet or invisible. We’re hoping you feel the same way. We want to be together in this moment of incredible grief, anger, and sadness, to hear what you’re feeling about this betrayal of trust, and to share ideas about how to move forward,” a statement signed, “Women of Northwest Tennessee,” noted.

This meeting is set for 9-11 a.m. on Saturday, July 9, at the Martin Public Library, located at 410 S. Lindell St. in downtown Martin.