Friday, October 17, 2014


Smoky Mountain Reflections #153

As we prepare to go the the polls in Tennessee, there are four amendment initiatives on the ballot. All four are important and every citizen should take a few minutes to read, understand, and make an informed decision. This goes for any ballot you cast; take the time to make an informed decision. Vote in accordance with your ‘educated’ conscience; do not just pick the candidates with an R or a D in front of their names.
Any proposed amendment that is put on the ballot in Tennessee is not a simple yes-or-no referendum for which a simple majority vote decides the issue. In order for an amendment to be added to the Tennessee State Constitution, it must get a number of “yes” votes equal to 50% of the votes cast in the Governor’s race plus one. A majority vote is not enough. If someone votes in the Governor’s race and leaves the amendment slots blank, that, in essence, counts as a “no” vote.  For example, if 10 people vote for a Governor, but with regard to an amendment, 5 vote yes and 1 votes no, the amendment fails.
While the other amendments are also important, they do not have the potential to save lives that Amendment 1 has. If it passes, Tennessee will again be allowed to make common sense regulations about abortion. The states that surround us have common sense regulations that protect their citizens, if we had similar regulations, the number of abortions in Tennessee would fall. This amendment would not affect the freedom of a woman to choose, but because it would reduce the number of abortions chosen, it would negatively impact the abortion industry’s bottom line. Because of this, the industry is spending lots of money to spread lies and negative propaganda about this amendment.     

Lie number 1: “The Amendment will ban abortions in Tennessee.” FALSE! Absolutely nothing in the amendment would ban any abortion. Furthermore, nothing in the amendment would empower the legislature to make laws that violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion rulings.

Lie number 2: “The Amendment needs to contain exceptions for incest and rape, or to save the life of the mother.” FALSE! No provision is needed since the amendment does not ban any abortions.

Lie number 3: “This Amendment will put us out of step with other states.” FALSE! Two-thirds of our sister states recognize no state constitutional right to abortion.

Because surrounding states have regulations and we do not, Tennessee has become an abortion destination. Tennessee is the only state in the southeastern United States that does not have at least an abortion-related informed consent law or a law requiring a waiting period (period of reflection). As a result, 25% of the abortions that take place in our state are women from surrounding states, making Tennessee number 3 in the nation for out-of-state abortions. I don’t know about you, but that isn’t what I want my state known for. Vote “Yes on 1” and make Tennessee a safer place to live.

In Christ,
Pastor Robert Portier
Saint Paul Lutheran Church 


Smoky Mountain Reflections #152

Greetings in Christ. As you all know I like to keep my Reflections articles clear and Christ-centered while addressing current issues in our community. This November we will all be asked to do our civic duty and make informed decisions on leaders and issues that affect our day-to-day lives. I would like to help you make an informed decision on Amendment 1 to our state’s constitution because Christians and the church should speak loudly on the issue of protecting innocent life.

Whom we elect and how we vote on other issues are also important, but this amendment should be particularly important to every Christian who loves life. Therefore, we should all vote “Yes on 1”. The facts about abortion in Tennessee are quite clear. Before 2000, the Tennessee Legislature passed a series of sensible laws regulating abortion, including a waiting period and informed consent laws, creating an environment where innocent human life was protected as much as legally possible. That changed dramatically in the year 2000 when the Tennessee state Supreme Court “found” a right to abortion in the state constitution. This decision struck down abortion regulations, in effect, prohibiting any restriction on abortion in Tennessee.

Justice Mickey Barker, who disagreed with the court’s decision, said, “Plainly stated, the effect of the Court’s holding today is to remove from the people all power, except by constitutional amendment, to enact reasonable regulations of abortion.” In response to the court’s overreaching action, state legislators adopted
Senate Joint Resolution 127 (on the ballot as Amendment 1). This resolution will allow Tennesseans to vote this November to amend the state constitution making it “neutral” on abortion and allowing the people of Tennessee to  once again enact common sense abortion regulations regarding licensing, hospital admitting privileges for clinic doctors, waiting periods, and simple health inspections of abortion clinics.

            Those of us who support this common sense amendment have been called the Tennessee Taliban by deep pockets who have a financial interest in the abortion industry here. Out-of-state customers make up 25% of the abortions in Tennessee because there are no regulations protecting young women who have abortions here. Supporters of Amendment 1 desire not to oppress women but to protect them and help them make informed decisions instead of being coerced into making decisions that line the pockets of clinic owners.

            The text of Amendment 1 is fairly simple, and short enough to include here. “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.”

            As a resident of Tennessee, it pains me to know that we are an abortion destination. Please help to protect women, both born and unborn, and vote “Yes on 1” in November.

In Christ,
Pastor Robert Portier
Saint Paul Lutheran Chruch

Sevierville TN