State Legislation

Tennessee Right to Life: Legislative Update

Tennessee Right to Life [TRL] applauds the full House and the Senate Judiciary Committee for passing TRL approved language on HB883 and SB745 that will keep the Human Life Protection Act strong and working as intended. House Bill 883 passed overwhelmingly by the House on Monday, and the Senate Judiciary passed Senate Bill 745 on Tuesday.

SB745 was then referred to the Senate Calendar Committee to be scheduled for a floor vote but was recalled and referred to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee where it will be debated again. The recall is unusual and unexpected. We will keep you updated.

The language of HB883/SB745 has undergone major revisions since it was first revealed on February 13. As originally filed, the language was unacceptable to the pro-life position but was supported by medical associations and hospital lobbyists. That version passed out of the House Population Health Subcommittee on February 14.

Before being presented to the full House Health Committee, Tennessee Right to Life and pro-life legislators worked to find an acceptable amendment that would clarify but not weaken current Tennessee law that is protecting the right to life of all unborn children.

Amendment #5705 was used to rewrite the entire bill and was passed by the House Health Committee last week and by the full House on Monday. The amendment was not immediately accepted by the Senate sponsor.

The amendment explicitly clarifies that treatments of ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage are in no way considered criminal abortions under the Human Life Protection Act, and it changes the affirmative defense to an exception for those times when the mother’s life is in danger. These changes will not broaden the scope of Tennessee law or allow for more abortions in our state.

Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee vote coincided with Tennessee Right to Life’s annual Pro-Life Women’s Day on the Hill where hundreds of women met with legislators and asked them to support the addition of Amendment #5705 to SB745 as was done in the House. When the Committee met a few hours later, the amendment was added to the bill without discussion. Senate bill 745 was then debated and passed with only one dissenting vote.

Additionally, in the House, House Bill 90 was passed in the Local Government Committee. This bill would prevent tax dollars from being used to transport unborn children across state lines to be aborted. The measure now moves to Calendar and Rules to be scheduled for a House floor vote. The bill has already passed in the Senate.

Tennessee Right to Life and pro-life Tennesseans are grateful to the legislators who are working to make Tennessee a safe place for unborn children and their mothers. As they work to keep abortion illegal, we will continue to work to make abortion unthinkable. 

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