May 20, 2022 7:00am

Reverse or preserve Roe v. Wade?

Power Poll Memphis respondents strongly support abortion rights

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Memphis, TN Correspondent
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The Supreme Court seems poised to overturn Roe v. Wade this year, a prospect opposed by a large majority of Power Poll respondents.

Nearly three of four respondents to May's Power Poll believe the court's landmark 1973 decision ratifying abortion rights should be upheld.

Only two in 10 believe the decision should be overturned. Six percent of respondents had no opinion.

Support for abortion rights in general is even stronger.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion would be banned or severely restricted in at least 25 states including Tennessee and all eight bordering states.

Tennessee's "trigger law" would make it a Class C felony for doctors to perform an abortion, although a woman seeking an abortion would be explicitly protected from prosecution.

Abortion would be allowed, according to the state law, “to prevent serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”

More than eight in 10 Power Poll respondents believe abortion should not be criminalized in Tennessee.

Twelve percent believe it should. Seven percent had no opinion.

Abortion rights should be left to the states, according to a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.

In that case, Mississippi has asked the justices to eliminate the constitutional right to abortion that was first established by the Roe decision in 1973 and re-affirmed by the Casey decision in 1992.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the draft. According to the leaked draft, a majority of justices agree.

Power Poll respondents strongly disagree.

Eigth in 10 believe the decision to have an abortion should be a woman and her physician.

Eighteen percent believe abortion should be regulated or restricted by law. Two percent had no opinion.

Meanwhile, nearly three in four respondents believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Twenty-two percent believe it should be legal under some circumstances.

Only four percent believe it should be illegal in all cases. Two percent had no opinion.

If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion rights and restrictions in Tennessee likely will be challenged in court.

In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court held that “a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy is a vital part of the right to privacy guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution.” The court found that a right to abortion in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, it said the right is “inherent in the concept of ordered liberty embodied in our constitution and is therefore fundamental.”

But in 2014, 53 percent of state voters approved an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution that reads:

“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.”

Last month, the Tennessee legislature passed a new law that adds criminal penalties for doctors who are not physically present with a patient when prescribing abortion medication that ends an existing pregnancy.

The law effectively limits telehealth appointments, mail-order and pharmacy prescriptions. (The new law does not impact Plan B and other "morning-after" emergency contraceptives that prevent pregnancy from occurring.)

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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