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‘Texas-style’ abortion bill advances in Tennessee House

Abortion law.
Abortion law.(Pexels/MGN)
Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 3:59 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A “Texas-style” abortion bill advanced in the Tennessee House today.

House Bill 2779 would ban all abortions and allow anyone to sue those who help someone seek an abortion.

Representative Rebecca Alexander, R-Jonesborough, is sponsoring the bill. She says it’s modeled after the Texas legislation, which resulted in a 60-percent decrease in abortions after it was signed into law.

“It leaves enforcement up to private citizens through civil lawsuits instead of criminal prosecutors,” said Alexander.

If passed, the bill would allow doctors to be sued for $10,000.

The bill now goes before the full Health Committee for discussion.

CHOICES Memphis Center for Reproduction Health released a statement Tuesday in response to the bill, saying “If this bill is allowed to go into effect, people who need abortions will be forced to either travel out of state, not receive the health care that they need, or seek abortions in unsafe situations. This is a heartbreaking decision and one that sets Tennesseans back decades.”

Earlier this week, Idaho sent a similar abortion bill to the governor’s desk, which bans abortions beyond six weeks of pregnancy. It would allow a relative of the fetus to sue the medical professional who performed the abortion if a heartbeat had been detected.

Read CHOICES’s complete statement below:

On Tuesday, March 15th, the extreme anti-abortion bill HB 2779 was heard in the TN House Health Subcommittee. This bill seeks to ban abortion outright in Tennessee with very minimal, if any, exceptions. If this bill is allowed to go into effect, people who need abortions will be forced to either travel out of state, not receive the health care that they need, or seek abortions in unsafe situations. This is a heartbreaking decision and one that sets Tennesseans back decades.

This ban is unconstitutional and will create dire circumstances in which individuals are asked to serve as “bounty hunters’' for financial reward to the detriment of people seeking care. Implementing this ban would have a devastating impact on pregnant persons seeking abortion, especially Black individuals, low-income people, and young people who already face disparities with abortion access. People with resources will still be able to access abortion, as they always have, by traveling to other states to receive care, while those who cannot leave Tennessee due to financial limitations or lack of access to childcare or paid leave will not have the same freedom of bodily autonomy.

This bill also criminalizes healthcare providers by allowing private citizens to bring suit against anyone they suspect of assisting a pregnant person to have an abortion. Lawmakers know exactly what they’re doing: working to make abortion as stigmatized and inaccessible as possible at any cost. This law makes no one safer and does not provide for the well-being of Tennessee communities. Instead, it injects the state into the examination room and denies Tennesseans a right affirmed by Roe v. Wade decades ago.

Jennifer Pepper, President and CEO of CHOICES, commented, “We are devastated by this cruel bill. CHOICES stand with Tennesseeans who have a constitutionally protected right to abortion care. Abortion being outlawed in Tennessee altogether could soon be a reality. To our allies: please, more than ever, stand with us now.”

As of today, CHOICES is open and providing abortions until further notice. We ask that you consider donating to CHOICES today. Your donation will allow us to continue providing essential reproductive and sexual health services, as well as allow us to continue our fight against this bill in Tennessee. Regardless of what restrictions are imposed upon us, we will fight to keep abortion legal, accessible, and affordable for Tennesseans.

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