By Peter J. Smith
NASHVILLE, Tennessee, April 1, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Overwhelming majorities in both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly have passed a law requiring abortionists to post signs in their clinics informing women that it is against the law for anyone to coerce them into having an abortion. The law also applies stiff penalties to abortion facilities that fail to post the signs.
The newly-passed Freedom from Coercion Act, SB 3812, requires abortion facilities to post a sign in large 40 pt. Arial font in their waiting room with the words: "Notice: It is against the law for anyone, regardless of the person's relationship to you, to coerce you to have an abortion. By law, we cannot perform an abortion on you unless we have your freely given and voluntary consent. It is against the law to perform an abortion on you against your will. You have the right to contact any local or state law enforcement agency to receive protection from any actual or threatened criminal offense to coerce an abortion."
The Senate approved SB 3812 on Wednesday on a vote of 28 in favor, 2 against. The House also adopted the Senate bill on a vote of 87 in favor, and 8 against, but added an amendment regarding the juvenile code which will have to be reconciled with the Senate.
Abortion facilities that fail to post the signs in a prominent place “in each patient waiting room and patient consultation room” would face a $2,500 per day fine and abortionists would also be subject to a $1,000 per day fine for each day abortions are conducted without the signs.
The fines would not apply in cases where the abortion was undertaken for the purpose of saving the life of a pregnant woman.
A minor also would have to certify in writing, prior to the abortion, that a licensed health care professional informed her that she must have “freely given, voluntary and informed consent” to the procedure.
The law also provides that any woman, or anyone on behalf of a minor, may take legal action for injuries resulting from failure to post the sign, and may recover damages for “emotional distress and other damages allowed by law.”
According to the Tennessee Report, Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) had tried to get the House committee working on the bill to include a provision that it was also illegal for anyone to use coercive methods on a minor to have her give birth, but without success.
Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) told colleagues on the Senate floor that the bill was necessary, since many women may be unaware that it is illegal under Tennessee law for anyone, including family members, to pressure them into having an abortion.
Johnson referenced a survey from the Medical Science Monitor, which he told the Senate “reported that up to 64 percent of women who received abortions were in some way influenced or coerced into having that abortion.”
The 2004 study was co-authored by David Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute, which surveyed American and Russian women and found that in 64 percent of cases, women reported feeling coerced in some way to abort their unborn children. The study also found that 65 percent of post-abortive women had experienced some form of trauma from the abortion, with 67 percent saying that they did not receive counseling before the abortion.
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