Sunday, November 9, 2008

Choice in Tennessee may well be another casualty in the Republican sweep of the state Legislature

Another prize Republicans won Nov. 4 in Tennessee will be in finally getting a vote of the people to eliminate the broad interpretation of choice the state Supreme Court has held concerning abortion.

That interpretation prohibits legislative actions such as 48-hour waiting periods and the requirement of all later-term abortions be done in a hospital. So advocates have been pushing for a state referendum on reversing the court's interpretation. The referendum would mandate the right to choice in Tennessee be no broader than what is held by the U.S. Supreme Court. And we know that could change any year now.

I have supported such a vote in Tennessee. I do not believe you can deny the desire of enough of the people to vote on a matter -- be it choice or in making English the language of business for a government. It is up to opponents of such changes to mount aggressive and well-financed campaigns to win the public debate.

I believe the same can be done with choice. It is not about anyone being for abortion and babies dying. It is about the sanctity of the doctor/patient relationship and giving a woman all the options available for her health. Statistics show the number of abortions falling as cultural attitudes change. There is no reason to believe that trend will abate if the law of choice stands.

In addition, choice in keeping government out of the doctor's office and one's very personal decisions on his or her health should be a very conservative position to take. And there should be enough Tennessee conservatives supporting that position to make the case to the people.

Remember their cry? Keep government out of our lives!

As a survivor of leukemia so far, I would not want government telling me and my doctor what kind of treatment I can receive.

So look for a resolution to pass both houses in 2009. Passage would be required in 2010, too, with a vote of the people in 2012.

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