Tennessee Bill Dies That Allows Women to See Ultrasound of Their Baby Before an Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 18, 2016   |   12:21PM   |   Washington, DC

The sponsor of a Tennessee bill requiring abortion clinics to show women an ultrasound of their unborn baby withdrew the legislation Tuesday amid concerns about legal challenges.

Tennessee state Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, introduced an amendment to his bill Tuesday after lawmakers expressed concerns about it last week; but after a debate Tuesday, Womick withdrew the amendment, too, according to The Tennessean.

Womick’s original bill would have required abortion clinics to perform an ultrasound and provide the images to any woman seeking an abortion. The amendment he proposed Tuesday would not have required an ultrasound prior to an abortion, but required abortion doctors to give women the opportunity to see their unborn child if she asked to.

“It is giving the woman a right to choose” the option to see her unborn child, Womick said.

Studies show that ultrasounds and other informed consent laws reduce abortions. When women are given information about abortion that Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses don’t routinely provide, they frequently consider alternatives. Informed consent bills are important because women frequently say the abortion center staff refused to show them any ultrasound information, even when asked.

One pro-abortion lawmaker opposed the bill because it included the term “unborn child.” State Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, claimed the term was “codifying a religious belief.”

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According to the Nashville Scene, some pro-life lawmakers also opposed the bill because they were worried that it could jeopardize other pro-life laws in the state and be overturned in court challenges.

“Especially with what has happened with the death of [U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin] Scalia, there is no guarantee where Tennessee’s statutes are going to stand,” said state Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough. “At best we’re going to have a 4-4 court on pro-life statutes. … it’s unclear whether what we have on the books will stand.”

Only recently have Tennessee lawmakers been able to introduce new measures to protect life and restrict abortion. In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court handed down a devastating case that said the state constitution allowed unlimited abortions. 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 Nov. 4, 2014, Tennessee voters approved Amendment 1, which returns authority for abortion regulation to the people of Tennessee and their state legislators.

Since then, pro-life state legislators have passed several pro-life laws, including one that requires regular state inspections of abortion centers and a 48-hour waiting period between counseling and the abortion. However, abortion activists have challenged several of these life-saving laws in court.

Womik’s bill was another proposed measure. He introduced a similar bill in 2015, but it stalled amid concerns about its constitutionality. The 2015 bill would have required the abortion doctor to describe the image of the unborn baby on the ultrasound screen, even if the woman declined to see the image, according to the report. Womick previously said his 2016 bill should not have any problems constitutionally.

According to local news reports, Womick said he is not giving up on the effort to ensure women receive information about their unborn babies prior to an abortion.