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Tennessee's State Capitol

NASHVILLE, Tennessee, April 20, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – On Thursday, the Tennessee House voted overwhelmingly to memorialize the victims of abortion on state grounds.

HB 2381 passed by a 63-15 vote. It calls for commissioning a “memorial in dedication to and in recognition of unborn children in this state, to be located on the capitol grounds.” The public would be consulted for the final design, and it would be funded through voluntary donations, not taxpayer dollars.

The Associated Press reports that before the vote, floor debate “got so heated that Speaker Beth Harwell had to demand order.” Democrats objected that Nashville’s Centennial Park already had a children’s memorial. The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Jerry Sexton, answered that this new monument would specifically recognize children who had died before birth.

During debate last month, Republican Rep. Bill Dunn argued that the monument would serve a similar purpose to existing monuments recognizing victims of American slavery and the Nazi Holocaust.

“Both of these monuments that are already here recognize that atrocities occurred because human beings were treated as less than human. In both cases, the vulnerable and defenseless were subjected to the will of the powerful,” he said. “The taking of the life of a baby in the womb is related to this brand of inhumanity.”

HB 2381 now moves on to the Senate, where the 28-5 Republican majority is expected to easily pass it. The state’s Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is also pro-life and likely to sign it into law.

However, Tennessee Right to Life warns that the Senate version of the bill contains weaker language that merely “urges the State Capitol Commission to consider” the monument, rather than expressly directing that it be developed and erected. The group is urging state pro-lifers to contact their state senators and Local Government Committee members to restore the original House language.

“Establishing a Memorial for the Victims of Abortion would be key to starting the healing process for many, many men and women,” said Myra Simons, a Tennessee pro-life activist and post-abortive woman who testified on the bill’s behalf. “Just the recognition that they are valued will go a long way in helping these hurting men and women to know we understand what they have gone through and for them to know that there are people who do indeed care. And also to remember the babies whose lives are forever gone because of their mother’s one misguided decision on that one ill-fated day.”