Tennessee Right to Life would like has thanked Tennessee Governor Bill Lee for signing into law House Bill 883 / Senate Bill 745 which will clarify but not weaken the Human Life Protection Act. The measure passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate this session with bipartisan support and will allow Tennessee law to continue to protect the right to life of all unborn children in Tennessee. With the Governor’s signature, the measure goes into effect immediately.
The language of the bill, which was amended from its original form, clarifies that treatment for ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy and miscarriage are not violations of current Tennessee law. The measure also changes the affirmative defense to an exception for those times when the life of the mother is at risk or there is risk of irreversible harm to a major bodily function.
Changes in the Amendment shows the addition that termination of a pregnancy with the intent to terminate an ectopic or molar pregnancy to the list of actions that do not constitute criminal abortion. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists report, "An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus. Almost all ectopic pregnancies—more than 90%—occur in a fallopian tube. As the pregnancy grows, it can cause the tube to burst (rupture). A rupture can cause major internal bleeding."
Tennessee Right to Life lobbyist, Will Brewer, was pleased with the outcome of the legislative session, “The session got off to a rocky start with the introduction of HB883 in the House Population Subcommittee. The original language would have significantly weakened Tennessee’s pro-life law and would have made it basically unenforceable. Pro-life voters and members of the General Assembly made their voices heard before the bill was presented in the full Health Committee, and the bill was basically rewritten with language that was acceptable to the pro-life position and to pro-life Tennesseans. Those pro-life voices made all the difference.”
Tennessee Right to Life appreciates the legislators who worked to ensure that Tennessee’s Human Life Protection Act would continue to work as intended when it was passed in 2019. The law is saving an estimated 900 children from being aborted in our state every month.
Tennessee Right to Life President, Stacy Dunn, said, “Unborn children are protected for another year in Tennessee. Because of the work of pro-life legislators, Tennessee values are still reflected in Tennessee law. Dunn continued, "Every day, every month and every year that goes by without legalized abortion moves our state that much closer to a day when abortion is not only illegal but unthinkable.”
In addition to this victory, legislators also passed a prohibition on local governments using tax dollars to fund the travel or expenses of aborting Tennessee children in other states. HB90/SB600 passed the House and Senate Chambers overwhelmingly earlier this session and has already been signed by the Governor.
“Because of pro-life legislators and Governor Lee, Tennessee is leading the nation in protecting the right to life of our most vulnerable citizens. Tennessee Right to Life and pro-life Tennesseans are grateful that our state leaders have made life a priority in our state,” Brewer said.
From the Legislation: This amendment replaces the affirmative defense and instead provides that it is not an offense for a physician to perform an abortion under circumstances that are substantially similar to those required to establish the affirmative defense under present law;
(3) This amendment clarifies that so long as the criminal abortion law is in effect, such law supersedes other provisions of present law concerning non-performance of abortions when a fetus is viable, fetal heartbeat, prohibition of race-based or Down syndrome-based abortion, and warnings concerning chemical abortions;
(4) This amendment removes a prior criminal abortion law, which delineated prohibited acts based on whether a pregnancy lasted three months or longer;
(5) Present law authorizes the commissioner of health to consider certain things when promulgating rules to effectuate the purposes of the law pertaining to the disposition of aborted fetal remains. One such consideration is the need to establish procedures for the pregnant woman or the pregnant woman's authorized representative to complete the forms within a reasonable time following a medical emergency, in situations where a medical emergency prevents the pregnant woman from completing the forms. This amendment removes a cross reference to the definition of "medical emergency", which is in one of the sections of present law that this amendment specifies will be superseded by the criminal abortion law;
(6) Present law prohibits a health care plan required to be established in Tennessee through an exchange pursuant to federal health care reform legislation enacted by the 111th Congress from offering coverage for abortion services. This amendment limits the prohibition to coverage for prohibited abortion services, meaning services that constitute the offense of criminal abortion; and
(7) This amendment requires the attorney general and reporter to notify the Tennessee Code Commission if the criminal abortion law is no longer in effect.
AMENDMENT #2 adds a requirement that the department of health collect the reports concerning the disposition of aborted fetal tissue that are required by present law and report quarterly the number of abortions performed in this state to the governor, the speaker of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, and the chairs of the health and welfare committee of the senate and the health committee of the house of representatives no later than January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1 of each year.
Source: TN Right to Life, HB 0883 / SB 0745
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