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Bills We're Watching in 2024

Here are the bills we're watching closely in the current legislative session. 

Fundamental Right to Reproductive Health Care Act

HB1626 / SB1590, sponsored by Representative Aftyn Behn (D-Nashville) and Senator London Lamar (D-Memphis). This bill states that every person has a fundamental right to make decisions about the person's reproductive health care, including the fundamental right to use or refuse contraceptive procedures or contraceptive supplies and to continue a pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion and to make decisions about how to exercise that right.

We SUPPORT this bill because all Tennesseans deserve access to the full spectrum of reproductive care, including abortion

The Tennessee Contraceptive Freedom Act

HB1943 / SB1804, sponsored by Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) and Senator Charlane Oliver (D-Nashville). This bill aims to protect Tennesseans’ right to use or refuse contraceptives. It clearly defines contraception, differentiating the term abortion from the use of contraceptives, emergency contraceptives, fertility awareness-based methods, and sterilization procedures. The bill additionally establishes requirements for healthcare professionals to provide access to contraceptive and family planning services and for health insurance companies and public health agencies to provide full coverage of contraceptives to both insured and uninsured Tennesseans. It explicitly prohibits restrictions on access to these services.

We SUPPORT this bill because all Tennesseans deserve the right to obtain or refuse contraception, a right that is especially vulnerable with the current state of reproductive healthcare access in our state.

The Abortion Travel Ban for Minors

HB1895 / SB1971, sponsored by Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) and Senator Paul Rose (R-Covington). This bill criminalizes assisting young Tennesseans in accessing abortion services and information in other states. This bill would criminalize assisting youth in accessing abortion as a Class C felony, subjecting folks with imprisonment of up to 15 years and fines up to $10,000. Although parents and legal guardians would be exempt from this criminalization, the bill still introduces grave dangers to public health. Youth who have a supportive relationship with their parents usually do discuss abortion decisions with them, but many choose not to disclose their pregnancy or reproductive choices to parents and have a good reason not to. This bill hinders young people in unsafe situations from talking to trusted adults and seeking needed healthcare. Preventing trusted adults, family members, and others from providing aid to minors in accessing abortion and relevant information is incredibly dangerous and unacceptable.

We are AGAINST this bill because all Tennesseans deserve access to abortion care and to information about abortion. We stand by and support the decisions young people make about their health and affirm that they should never be denied support and aid from trusted adults

The Clarification Bill

HB2227 / SB1918, sponsored by Representative Harold Love (D-Nashville) and Senator Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis). This bill clarifies that the term abortion, as defined in the offense of criminal abortion, is distinct and separate from the use of contraceptives and family planning services. The bill also specifically differentiates the disposal of embryos involved in services such as fertility testing, fertility treatment, and other healthcare services or medications from the term abortion. The bill additionally protects the use of contraceptive services for needs related to pregnancy prevention or other health concerns.

We SUPPORT this bill because we need to protect the right to contraception and family planning services for all Tennesseans, no matter what intention or purpose behind utilizing these services. 

 

The 12-Month Supply Bill

HB2635 / SB1919, sponsored by Representative Sam McKenzie (D-Knoxville) and Senator Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis). This bill aims to improve access to contraceptives by allowing healthcare providers to prescribe a 12-month supply of contraceptives at one time, rather than just the 1- or 3-month supply currently permitted by most insurance companies. Contraceptive access is vulnerable and limited for individuals residing in rural areas with limited pharmacy and healthcare resources, underserved populations, and folks with unstable access or no access to health insurance. This bill is especially useful for folks whose insurance plans limit the number of prescriptions covered each month, as they would be able to acquire contraceptives for the entire year with one prescription at one time.

We SUPPORT this bill because it would eliminate several barriers to contraceptive access. Contraceptives are important healthcare resources and all Tennesseans deserve the right to use or refuse contraceptives to address their healthcare needs.

 

The Travel Ban for Trans Youth Healthcare

HB2310 / SB2782, sponsored by Representative Bryan Richey (R-Maryville) and Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma). This bill would criminalize assisting young Tennesseans access gender affirming healthcare (GAH) services in other states without parental consent. GAH services for minors are prohibited in the state of Tennessee, yet these services are vital to the wellbeing and health of many Tennesseans. Therefore, it is imperative that youth are able to access GAH where it is legal. This bill perpetuates stigmatization, division, and discouragement in the face of Tennessee youth seeking GAH. This bill serves as an unconstitutional and extreme attack on personal freedom and autonomy. Additionally, the exclusion of the term “legal guardian” and inclusion of only the consent of “a parent” poses the likely possibility that this bill would disproportionately impact youth who do not have parents or accessible parents, youth who likely are members of multiple marginalized identities and facing heightened social and health inequities. This bill is outside of the legislature’s authority, as the state of Tennessee does not have the authority to prevent Tennesseans from accessing care in other states. Therefore, the bill threatens the principles of our national democracy and form of governance and poses important implications for the state of Tennessee as well as for the public health of our youth.

We are AGAINST this bill because all Tennesseans deserve access to healthcare, especially gender affirming healthcare services. We stand by and support the decisions young people make about their health and affirm that they should never be denied support and aid from trusted adults.

 

Prohibition of Qualifying for Office Post-Expulsion for Forever (Attack on TN3)

HJR0706, sponsored by Representative Bryan Richey (R-Maryville). This resolution would prevent members of the Tennessee General Assembly from reelection, reappointment, or employment ever again by the Assembly following their expulsion. This resolution is an attack on the reinstatement of the expelled members of the Tennessee Three, Representative Justin J. Pearson (D-Memphis) and Representative Justin Jones (D-Nashville). These representatives were unjustifiably expelled from their seats in April of 2023 after they, along with Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville), uplifted the voices of concerned constituents during a protest of gun violence. This resolution is explicitly and unequivocally anti-democratic, as it would deny constituents representation from the officials they elected to advocate for their needs in the TN General Assembly. The consequences of unjust expulsions of progressive legislators would be dire, especially in the face of Tennessee’s supermajority.

We are AGAINST this resolution because it is vital that Tennesseans are represented by the elected officials they elect so that their voices can be heard in decision making and legislative drafting. It is imperative that we protect democracy and uphold the rights of constituents.

 

Prohibition of Qualifying for Office for 4 Years Post-Expulsion (Attack on TN3)

HJR0797, sponsored by Representative Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro). This resolution would prevent members of the Tennessee General Assembly from reelection, reappointment, or employment again by the Assembly for four years following their expulsion. This resolution is an attack on the reinstatement of the expelled members of the Tennessee Three, Representative Justin J. Pearson (D-Memphis) and Representative Justin Jones (D-Nashville). These representatives were unjustifiably expelled from their seats in April of 2023 after they, along with Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville), uplifted the voices of concerned constituents during a protest of gun violence. This resolution is directly anti-democratic, as it would deny constituents representation from the officials they elected to advocate for their needs in the TN General Assembly. The consequences of unjust expulsions of progressive legislators would be dire, especially in the face of Tennessee’s supermajority.

We are AGAINST this resolution because it is vital that Tennesseans are represented by the elected officials they elect so that their voices can be heard in decision making and legislative drafting. It is imperative that we protect democracy and uphold the rights of constituents.

Prohibition of Re-Electing General Assembly Member Expelled for “Disorderly Conduct” (Attack on TN3)

HB2716 / SB2634, sponsored by Representative Johnny Garrett (R-Goodlettsville) and Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin). This bill would prevent local legislative bodies from re-electing Tennessee General Assembly members expelled for “disorderly conduct.” This bill is an attack on the reinstatement of the expelled members of the Tennessee Three, Representative Justin J. Pearson (D-Memphis) and Representative Justin Jones (D-Nashville). These representatives were unjustifiably expelled from their seats in April of 2023 after they, along with Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville), uplifted the voices of concerned constituents during a protest of gun violence. This bill is explicitly and unequivocally anti-democratic, as it would deny constituents representation from the officials they elected to advocate for their needs in the TN General Assembly. The consequences of unjust expulsions of progressive legislators would be dire, especially in the face of Tennessee’s supermajority.

We are AGAINST this bill because it is vital that Tennesseans are represented by the elected officials they elect so that their voices can be heard in decision making and legislative drafting. It is imperative that we protect democracy and uphold the rights of constituents.

 

Gender-Affirming Healthcare Requirements and Reporting Act

HB2816 / SB2396, sponsored by Representative Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) and Senator Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville). This bill would mandate that clinics that receive funds from the state of Tennessee and that provide gender affirming healthcare (GAH) offer detransition services, as well as would mandate that these clinics and insurance companies covering GAH report detransition information to the department of health. Make no mistake, this bill does not intend to increase access to healthcare services, it actually serves to target and attack GAH and shifts important attention and resources away from GAH services, as the services the bill identifies for coverage and provision are already covered by most insurances and provided by most clinics. This bill perpetuates stigma against GAH and various gender identities, and ignores the fact that folks have the right to privately make decisions about what healthcare services they need. “Detransition procedures” include stopping or switching gender-affirming hormone treatment, procedures that are part of GAH, rather than distinct from it. This term is misleading because it has been conflated with transition regret by opponents of healthcare for trangender people and is used to increase barriers to GAH. Legislation that pits GAH and detransition services against each other only serves to promote disinformation and erase the experiences of trans Tennesseans. This type of mandate for the reporting of health information, especially that related to GAH, is a violation of the confidentiality between patients and their providers. 

We are AGAINST this bill because all Tennesseans deserve the freedom to maintain privacy in their healthcare decisions and have the right to access gender affirming healthcare services in an environment free from stigma, barriers, and restrictions.