Senate approves Human Life Protection Act to protect the life of unborn children
The full Senate voted 26 to 5 on Monday evening to strengthen Tennessee’s pro-life stance with approval of the Human Life Protection Act. Senate Bill 1257 would proactively trigger the restoration of Tennessee’s abortion laws 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 laws null and void, which prohibited abortion except when the life of the mother was at risk. Since then, Tennessee Republicans have worked diligently to prevent abortion through the passage of numerous laws. This includes initiating a constitutional amendment adopted by Tennessee voters that allowed the General Assembly to enact common-sense restrictions, like a 48-hour waiting period and a requirement that abortion facilities be regulated as surgical centers with proper medical professionals on staff. It also included action to defund Planned Parenthood.
The restoration of state power over abortion would occur in one of two ways under the legislation. 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 U.S. constitutional amendment is adopted. Then thirty days following either event, Tennessee’s abortion law would be restored to its 1972 statute.
Six states have passed trigger legislation, 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 full Senate approved legislation requiring abortion complications in Tennessee to be reported. In 2017, there were 10,810 induced abortions in Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Department of Heath which currently releases an annual Induced Termination of Pregnancy Report. The report details the number of abortions performed but does not indicate the complications that result. Across the country these complications are often underreported which has resulted in an inaccurate assessment of the quality of care women are receiving. Senate Bill 614 simply adds reported medical complications of induced terminations to the report.