One might think there wouldn’t be much more the Tennessee General Assembly and Governor Bill Lee could do to take away our right to abortion and bodily autonomy after they passed the omnibus abortion ban in 2020.
However, I want you to be aware of two bills that are extremely concerning in light of the tenuous nature of abortion rights as the Supreme Court of the United States will likely rule before summer on a pivotal abortion ban case, Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health.
Medication Abortion Restriction and the Right to Sue
Senator Mike Bell (R-Cleveland) and Representative Robin Smith (R-Chattanooga) have sponsored SB2281/HB2416, which they’re calling the Tennessee Abortion-Inducing Drug Risk Protocol Act.
This bill requires onerous reporting standards for physicians who administer abortion pills, creates a shame-based, state-sanctioned system of reproductive coercion of patients, and criminalizes those who does not comply.
Taking from Texas’ SB8 playbook on the right to sue, this bill also allows individuals to sue those who provide abortion medication. Clearly, this is intended to make medication abortion even more difficult to access in anticipation of a post-Roe environment. A few things to note about SB2281/HB2416:
- Places several restrictions on prescribing abortion-inducing pills, including that it must be provided by a physician in-person and may not be provided via courier, delivery, or mail service.
- Creates severe penalties for anyone distributing the pill out of compliance with this policy, including fines up to $50,000, up to 20 years in prison, or both.
- Mandates the state to provide state-prepared materials about abortion reversal—an unproven and dangerous theory—for the informed consent process.
- Implements politically-scripted informed consent, including telling the patient that an abortion reversal pill is a safe and real option for them. It’s not.
- Prohibits the distribution of abortion-inducing drugs in schools through college.
- Establishes onerous reporting requirements for any physicians who see a patient for post-medication abortion complications.
- Allows for civil malpractice lawsuits with actual and punitive damages.
Miscarriage Criminalization Bill
Taken in tandem with the Medication Abortion and the Right to Sue Bill, another bill, SB2300/HB2314, is particularly concerning. This bill outlaws child abuse at the point of fertilization and could be used in a dangerous effort to criminalize pregnant people and those who experience a miscarriage or abortion. This bill is sponsored by Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) and Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris). This is an attempt to give fertilized eggs the same rights and privileges available to other persons by extending current child abuse laws to cover embryos.
Next Tuesday, February 15th, FOUR anti-abortion bills will be up for a vote at the Cordell Hull Building (425 Rep. John Lewis Way N, Nashville, TN 37243). Show up and contact these lawmakers to oppose these bills.
- 12 PM CT in House Hearing Room 2: The Medication Abortion and the Right to Sue Bill is in the House Health Subcommittee. Write them or call the House Health Subcommittee Chair, Representative Bob Ramsey at 615-741-3560 and tell him to stop HB 2146 in the subcommittee!
- 3 PM CT in Senate Hearing Room 1: Two anti-abortion bills are in the Senate Judiciary Committee. SB0204 & HB0724 is an unconstitutional total ban on abortion when a pregnancy is detected. This bill is sponsored by Senator Pody (R-Lebanon) and Representative Howell (R-Cleveland). SB0494 & HB1079, the Impregnator Bill, is an unconstitutional, insulting bill that gives the suspected impregnator veto power over another person’s abortion decision.
- 4:30 CT in House Hearing Room 2: The House K-12 Subcommittee will vote on SB2158/HB2257, which is a bill that prohibits anyone who provides abortions from teaching sex-ed in public schools. Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) and Representative Debra Moody (R-Covington) sponsored this legislation.
If you’re ready to learn more about the TN legislature and how to advocate for reproductive freedom on the state level then make sure you sign up for our Statewide Virtual Action Forum on Tuesday, February 15th at 7PM ET/6PM CT! Our Organizers will take you through each of the bills we're up against and how they will impact Tennesseans. Then, we'll all take action together over Zoom!
If you have any questions about this event, please reach out to us at [email protected].