(LifeSiteNews) — Tennessee Republicans have introduced and sponsored two bills in the state legislature to amend the Human Life Protection Act (HLPA).
The first new bill, HB1440/SB857, amends the HLPA to make an exception to allow abortion if the conception occurred by rape.
The second new bill, HB883/SB745, is moving quickly through the Tennessee House, sponsored by Republican Reps. Esther Helton-Haynes, Iris Rudder, Patsy Hazelwood, Andrew Farmer, Jerome Moon, Mark White, Pat Marsh, Sam Witson, Ron Travis, Joe Carr, and Kevin Vaughan, and Republican Senator Richard Briggs. This bill would substantially amend the HLPA to allow the abortion of children having a “lethal fetal anomaly.” The bill also allows abortion for preventing (in addition to treating) a medical emergency for the mother.
Further, the HB883/SB745 changes the state’s burden of proof in the prosecution of criminal abortion by allowing abortion subject to the physician’s “good faith medical judgment” rather than “reasonable medical judgment.” In his recent legal opinion, pro-life attorney Paul Linton wrote that passing HB883/SB745 would “effectively nullify the prohibition of abortion in Tennessee.”
The HLPA, passed as a trigger law in 2019, went into effect last year after the Supreme Court rendered its decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health. The HLPA criminalizes all abortion in Tennessee except as necessary to save the life of the mother or “to prevent serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” The provision to save the life or health of the mother is an “affirmative defense” that a physician may invoke under prosecution. However, no physician has been prosecuted in Tennessee under the HLPA since it came into effect.
UPDATE (03/07/23): Walgreens won't dispense abortion pills in 20 states
The pressure is paying off. Walgreens' plan to dispense abortion pills nationwide is now in tatters, with the pharmaceutical giant announcing that it won't mail the pills to, or sell them within, 20 states.
The news comes after 20 Republican attorneys general warned CVS and Walgreens that doing so would be in violation of federal law and that they were opening themselves to penalties.
But we can't rest on our laurels with this boycott: Walgreens and CVS will only listen to us when their profits are threatened — we need a HUGE boycott so that blood money they get from selling abortion pills is dwarfed by the profits they lose when pro-life America shops elsewhere.
Even Politico admitted in its reporting that "pressure" from pro-life voters like you helped change Walgreens' plans, so now we're asking you to take the next step: simply share this petition with your friends and ask them to join the boycott.
Walgreens and CVS will begin selling mifepristone — a powerful chemical that kills unborn children in the womb — if pro-life America does not ACT NOW.
Pro-life Americans MUST STOP the widespread sale and distribution of mifepristone by sending a message that only big-box stores will understand: A NATIONAL BOYCOTT OF WALGREENS AND CVS.
Walgreens and CVS are the newest back-door channels for the pro-abortion movement, now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade.
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Our work in the pro-life movement is FAR from over, especially now that Walgreens and CVS have chosen to push deadly drugs in their stores and in our communities!
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CVS & Walgreens announce plans to dispense abortion pills after Biden FDA loosens restrictions
The text of HB883 is difficult for the public to access, but it can be read here. By protocol, bills are not posted to the Tennessee General Assembly website until the bill, as amended, has passed out of committee. However, HB883 was introduced as a “caption bill” whereby the entirety of the bill comprises an amendment. The “caption” currently associated with the bill is deceptively unrelated to the amended bill, providing “for the upkeep and maintenance of a monument on the capitol campus that is in memory of the victims of abortion.”
The Tennessee Medical Association helped draft the bill. Tennessee Right to Life (TRL) was not involved at all.
“We barely had 24-hour notice on the language,” reported Will Brewer, director of government relations for Tennessee Right to Life.
Brewer testified before the Population Health Subcommittee on Tuesday, February 14. Asked whether TRL considered this to be a pro-life bill, he responded, “No, we don’t. Our organization would score a yes-vote on this bill negatively.”
Brewer’s response drew the ire of House Speaker Cameron Sexton, who addressed the subcommittee, saying, “Something happened that I’ve never experienced before: Somebody testifying tried to intimidate our members by telling them how they’re going to score the vote.”
HB883/SB745 was passed out of the Population Health Subcommittee. It is scheduled to be heard and voted on by the Health Committee next Wednesday, February 22.
Pressed to withdraw his sponsorship of SB745 by pro-life constituents, Senator Briggs, a physician, responded by email, “My bill allows doctors to save the life of mothers so they can have other children and raise families. My bill deals solely with medical issues and children that cannot survive outside the womb.”
But Brewer responded to LifeSiteNews, “The law as it exists allows terminations to occur to save the life of the mother. This bill [HB883/SB745] just opens us up to all kinds of bad-faith terminations.”
Briggs recently admitted that he had barely read the Human Life Protection Act before sponsoring it and voting for it in 2019.
Speaking about both new bills, Stacy Dunn, president of Tennessee Right to Life, said, “We exist to protect the right to life of all unborn children. We are not open to sacrificing some children for the sake of polling. The right to life is not subject to public opinion.”