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Bills We're Watching in 2023

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

Fundamental Right to Reproductive Health Care Act

Status: FAILED

HB0829 / SB0762, sponsored by Leader Karen Camper (D-Memphis) 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.

Protect the Right to Birth Control

Status: FAILED

HB1084 / SB0885, sponsored by Representative Jesse Chism (D-Memphis) and Senator Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis). This bill states that the term abortion, as defined for the offense of criminal abortion, does not include the use of contraceptives, including hormonal birth control, intrauterine devices, or emergency contraceptives.

We SUPPORT this bill because we need to protect access to birth control. Our right to contraceptives are vulnerable in the wake of the fall of Roe and the Tennessee abortion ban.

Abortion Fund Ban

HB 0090/ SB 600 sponsored by Representative Debra Moody and Senator Joey Hensley. This bill prohibits local governments from expending funds to assist a person in obtaining an abortion, including expending funds as part of a health benefit plan or for travel to a state where abortion is legal.

We are AGAINST this bill because it restricts information, resources, and freedom to travel for patients to access abortion care.

Exceptions + "False Reporting" Sentencing

HB1440 / SB0857, sponsored by Representative Iris Rudder and Senator Ferrell Haile. This bill provides exceptions to the offense of criminal abortion in cases where the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. It would require the physician performing the abortion to confirm that the patient had reported the offense to law enforcement and received a rape kit. Patients who have abortions because of this exception would receive a mandatory minimum prison sentance of 3 years if the state determines their report of rape or incest was “false” and filed for the purposes of obtaining an abortion.

We are AGAINST this bill because it requires reporting to law enforcement by victims/survivors of rape in order to obtain an abortion. They should not be pushed into the legal system before they are ready. When we stand together to demand abortion access or the decriminalization of abortion, we say that no matter what, everyone deserves abortion access in their own community. Pursuing exceptions without also seeking broader abortion access overall, privileges those in our state who can afford to access care, and ignores those most harmed by abortion bans.

Exception for Life of Pregnant Patient

HB0778 / SB0983, sponsored by Representative Esther Helton-Haynes and Senator Ken Yager. This bill limits the offense of criminal abortion to only apply to "elective abortions;" defines elective abortion as any abortion that is not medically necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or to prevent serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.

We are AGAINST this bill. Anything that allows more access to abortion and reproductive health care is vital, but anything short of complete support for bodily autonomy and abortion rights stigmatizes abortions, particularly for our most disenfranchised communities. Further, the term “elective abortions” is misleading and implies that other legally unacceptable reasons for needing an abortion are not necessary.

Abortion Reversal Information

HB 269 / SB0699, sponsored by Representative Bryan Terry and Senator Rusty Crowe. This bill requires the department of health to publish on its website information on the possibility of reversing the effects of an abortion in any language that is the primary language spoken by 1 percent or more of this state's population, rather than 2 percent or more, which is the status quo.

This is a caption bill, meaning the actual language of the bill can be written after the bill filing deadlines (last week). We will make our position clear once the final language is introduced.

TennCare Restriction For Trans Care

HB1215 / SB1339, sponsored by Speaker Cameron Sexton and Senator Jack Johnson. This bill prohibits any insurance company that contracts with TennCare from providing reimbursement or coverage for gender-affirming care for both minors and adults anywhere in the country.

We are AGAINST this bill because we believe gender affirming care should be accessible to all people, regardless of whether they have public or private health insurance.

Gender Affirming Care Ban for Minors

HB1378 / SB0005, sponsored by Representative John Ragan and Senator Janice Bowling. This bill would ban gender affirming care for minors. Specifically, it would prohibit minors from receiving puberty blockers or hormone treatment.

We are AGAINST this bill because we believe trans kids should have access to gender affirming care.

Gender Affirming Care Ban for Minors and Private Right of Action to Sue Health Care Provider and Parent

Status: PASSED

SB 0001 / HB 0001, sponsored by Representative William Lamberth and Senator Jack Johnson. This bill also bans gender-affirming care for minors. It prohibits a healthcare provider from performing on a minor administering to a minor in a medical procedure if the performance or administration of the procedure is for the purpose of enabling a minor to identify with, or live, as a purported identity, inconsistent with the minor's sex.

Criminalization of Gender Affirming Care Physicians

HB1378 /SB 0005, sponsored by Representative John Ragan and Senator Janice Bowling. This bill bans gender affirming care for minors and penalizes doctors who provide care. Prohibits certain practices and healthcare services to  facilitate the minor's desire to present or appear in a manner that is inconsistent with the minor's sex. Allows for a civil penalty of $1,000 for medical professionals per occurrence. Bans healthcare providers who receive state funds from offering any services related to gender transition for minors. Provide whistleblower protections to anyone who reports parents or medical professionals for providing gender-affirming care to the state.

We are AGAINST this bill because we believe trans kids should have access to gender affirming care and support the physicians who provide that care.

HIV Funding

HB 0370 / SB 0290, sponsored by Representative John Ray Clemmons and Senator Jeff Yarbro. This bill requires the department of health to seek federal funding to implement programs for the prevention, testing, and treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) for residents of this state, including programs in partnership with community and nonprofit partners. It also requires the department to annually report to the general assembly certain information about the programs and funding.

We SUPPORT this bill because we believe STD/STI prevention, testing, and treatment saves lives.

TennCare Maternal Health

HB 0567 / SB 0177, sponsored by Representative Michele Carringer and Senator Becky Massey. This bill requires TennCare to create and implement a three-year pilot program to provide remote maternal health services to eligible TennCare recipients. It also authorizes the TennCare director to seek a federal waiver as necessary to implement the pilot program.

We SUPPORT this bill because we believe it will expand access to maternal health services.

TennCare Doula Services

HB 0576/ SB0128, sponsored by Representative Caleb Hemmer and Senator London Lamar. This bill requires the bureau to establish a pilot program during the 2024-2025 fiscal year to provide payment for doula care services for pregnant women enrolled in the TennCare program who meet certain criteria. The bill also authorizes the director to seek a federal waiver to implement the pilot program.

We SUPPORT this bill because we believe it will expand access to maternal health services.

Drag Ban

Status: PASSED

SB 0003 / HB 0009, sponsored by Representative Chris Todd and Senator Jack Johnson. Restricts public drag performances. Creates an offense for a person who engages in an "adult cabaret performance" on public property, or in a location where an adult cabaret performance could be viewed by a person who is not an adult.

We are AGAINST this bill because we support diverse forms of gender expression.