Senate Judiciary Committee votes to strengthen Tennessee’s pro-life stance with approval of Human Life Protection Act
(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), April 11, 2019 – The Senate Judiciary Committee voted this week to strengthen Tennessee’s pro-life stance with approval of the Human Life Protection Act. Senate Bill 1257 seeks to proactively trigger the restoration of Tennessee’s abortion law prior to the Roe v. Wade ruling, if and when the power to regulate abortion is returned to the states, to protect the life of unborn children.
When the United States Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, it rendered Tennessee’s strong abortion law, which prohibited abortion except when the life of the mother was at risk, null and void. Since then, Tennessee Republicans have diligently worked to prevent abortion by initiating a constitutional amendment adopted by Tennessee voters that allowed the General Assembly to enact common-sense restrictions. These restrictions include a 48-hour waiting period and a requirement that abortion facilities be regulated as surgical centers with proper medical professionals on staff, making the laws as tight as constitutionally possible. Pro-life efforts also include action to defund Planned Parenthood.
The restoration of state power over abortion would occur in one of two ways. The U.S. Supreme Court could issue a decision overruling Roe v. Wade, or an amendment could be adopted to the U.S. Constitution that returns the authority to regulate abortion back to the states.
Under this bill, the Attorney General and Reporter would be required to notify the Tennessee Code Commission in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned or a United States Constitutional amendment is adopted. The Code Commission directs the official compilation of statues, codes and laws of the state. Then thirty days following either event, Tennessee’s abortion law would be restored to its 1972 statute.
The Human Life Protection Act will now proceed to the Senate floor to be voted on by the full Senate. Upon passage, Tennessee would join six other states across the country that have this type of trigger legislation on their books, including Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota. In addition, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas are also currently considering similar legislation.
In other action, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send the pro-life “fetal heartbeat bill” to a study committee which will meet this summer to help put the bill in the best posture to withstand a possible constitutional challenge. Senate Bill 1236 bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat has been detected. The committee will meet on August 13th and 14th when members will hear public testimony, with more time provided if needed. Legal experts maintain that one of the biggest constitutional hurdles facing heartbeat laws in other states has been the lack of testimony on record.