A House subcommittee voted along party lines on Tuesday to kill a contentious constitutional abortion amendment amid open partisan sniping over the legislation.
“The resolution fails,” Rep. Mary Pruitt, the Democratic chairwoman of the House Public Health and Family Assistance Subcommittee, declared after the subcommittee voted, 6-3, to defeat the measure.
The measure proposed to amend the Tennessee constitution to specify that nothing in state law explicitly protects abortion. The Senate approved the proposal earlier this year, but it was widely expected to die in the House committee, as in previous years.
Proponents said the amendment was needed for future abortion regulation; opponents have decried it as an election-year gambit and an attempt to eventually ban abortion outright.
Knox County Democrat Joe Armstrong, who sits on this committee, heaped scorn on the Republicans:
Democrats have criticized Republican sponsors of the resolution, saying it's a partisan issue that comes up almost every election year.
"Democrats and Republicans have worked together to create quality legislation," said Rep. Joe Armstrong, who voted against the resolution on Tuesday. "But it's funny this comes up ... when there's an election on the line and yet on an off year this is never mentioned."
The Knoxville Democrat emphasized the partisanship of the resolution by referencing a fellow Democrat who said he wasn't allowed to sign onto the legislation because of his party affiliation.
"By telling a pro-life Democrat he can't sign on, that proves it's not about saving life, it's about politics," Armstrong said.
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