In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled 4-1 that the state constitution allows unlimited abortion. The ruling prohibited common-sense measures like informed consent, waiting periods, and legislation to prevent coerced abortion from passing through the Tennessee legislature.
However, on November 4th, Tennessee voters approved Amendment 1, which returns authority for abortion regulation to the people of Tennessee and their state legislators.
The legislation 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.”
Now, Rep. Rick Womick (R-Rockvale) is sponsoring a bill that will give women the option to view an ultrasound and hear the heartbeat of her unborn child prior to an abortion. Womick said,“Right now Planned Parenthood and all abortion clinics do ultrasounds before they perform the abortion. All this bill would say is look, let the mother see the picture and hear the heartbeat, that’s all this bill would do.”
This legislation is critical for Tennessee because statistics show that 78% of pregnant women who see an ultrasound of their baby reject abortion. Mary Balch, the Legislative Director for National Right to Life, explained why Ultrasound legislation is so important. She said, “Clearly, real-time ultrasound images of the unborn child are truthful, not misleading, and can lead to a more informed decision. Ultrasound is a window to the womb allowing the mother to view for herself what is inside her, seeing not opinion but objective and accurate fact.”
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The President of Tennessee Right to Life, Brian Harris, said the following about the legislation:
“The state’s oldest and largest pro-life organization reiterated its focus for the upcoming legislative session: restoring previously passed protections which were struck down by activist state court abortion rulings in 2000 and 2002.
The campaign for Amendment 1 focused squarely on restoring several common-sense provisions including informed consent for women and girls considering abortion, a short waiting period to prevent coerced abortion and, most importantly, a requirement that abortion facilities be licensed and inspected.”
He concluded, “That will be the legislative agenda of Tennessee’s pro-life movement when the Legislature convenes again in January. There are likely to be other bills floated but the focus of pro-life leadership is going to be limited to restoring these common-sense provisions which are both constitutionally proven and enjoy broad public support among Tennesseans on both sides of the abortion debate.”