KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Changes to the Tennessee state Constitution will be up for decision in November.
One of those changes addresses abortion and the language governing how abortion is handed in the law.
Representative Tony Shipley says it's time for a change, but not for abortion law. Not yet.
"The amendment doesn't change anything. It simply says that the Constitution is silent, " Shipley told News 5.
Abortion will stay legal in Tennessee for the time being.
Representative Shipley believes this amendment would be a way to re-establish the powers reserved for the legislature, as laid out in the state constitution.
"The court had no place to legislate from the bench," Shipley said. "They are to interpret the law, interpret the law, but for heaven sakes, not rewrite history."
Here's how the amendment is worded:
"Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother."
So what does that mean? Simply put, legislators want more direction from the people on how to govern.
"This is a very healthy, wholesome exercise of our process of government, and we're giving it to the people to clarify," said Shipley.
He says this amendment can be seen as a big 'reset' button, and feels this would open up the floor to more discussion on abortion and how to address the issue.
"We're starting over. Judges get out of this. It's up to the people to regulate this," said Shipley. " Then we will sit down together and come up with reasonable laws."
The amendment must be passed by the voters this November.
Representative Shipley did say that if the General Assembly was able to decide on abortion, the abortion process would be more medically centered, possibly with the same health standards as an outpatient surgical center.
You can read the amendment as it will appear on the ballot here.
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