Today is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.
Today my pastor preached a wonderful message in support of life. As a pro-life legislator his message has caused me to reflect on the great progress we have made for pro-life in Tennessee since the terrible Supreme Court of Tennessee decision in 2000 made Tennessee's abortion regulation laws in the Tennessee Code unenforceable.
We pro-life legislators worked for years to pass SJR 127 - which finally passed the legislature because at the same time we were fighting to gain more Republican seats each year. This change in the balance of power allowed Amendment 1 to be placed on the 2014 ballot and passed. We had finally done it - we overturned the 2000 SCOTN decision, and amended our state Constitution to allow us to regulate abortion.
2015, Tennessee Right to Life asked me to sponsor the bill to re-enact our law for the licensing and inspection of abortion clinics, and I co-sponsored the re-enactment of the waiting period before having an abortion as well as informed consent.
Over the years, even without Amendment 1 we were able to do other things. In 2009, again working with Tennessee Right to Life, we figured out a way to defund Planned Parenthood of state tax dollars which I sponsored - since that time, no state tax dollars have gone to Planned Parenthood.
In 2009, I also sponsored and passed the Abortion Anti-coercion Act which requires every abortion clinic to post a sign stating that it is a felony to coerce a woman or girl to have an abortion.
After a huge floor fight I was proud to vote to kill a bill that would have criminalized undercover videos of illegal activities - the bill would have made illegal the LiveNation videos that have exposed Planned Parenthood's sale of fetal body parts and their concealment of sex trafficking. Pro-lifers and animal lovers begged legislators to vote no on the Ag Gag bill. It narrowly passed but was ultimately found to be unconstitutional because it violated the First Amendment and the Governor issued a veto.
Last summer, as a result of the LiveNation videos, I scrutinized our law and rules for abortion clinics to see if it was possible to sell fetal body parts in Tennessee. While it has been illegal since 1997 to sell fetal body parts, I wrote the Governor a letter with a great many co-signers with my concerns that there were loop holes. The Governor replied in early fall that he had made the administrative rules changes to take care of part of the problems and that we would take the legislative action too. ..all of my ideas are in the Governor's bill plus others and I will be a sponsor of the Governor's bills.
However, the pro-abortion crowd is not sitting idly by -
Two lawsuits are challenging Amendment 1 and another is challenging our new clinic licensure law, facility inspection, hospital admitting privileges for abortion providers and informed consent provisions for women and girls considering abortion.
Further, a Texas lawsuit is challenging Texas abortion regulations. If successful, the Texas lawsuit could impact Tennessee's abortion laws. I have become a part of the defense of the Texas lawsuit by signing my name to an Americans United for Life amicus brief in support of keeping Texas abortion regulations.
Here is a list of the concerns;
- Amendment 1 - Tracey E George et al v. Haslam et al: Filed in U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee on November 7, 2014. Assigned to Federal Judge Kevin Sharp. An attempt to overturn Amendment 1.
- Amendment 1 - Tre Hargett, Secretary of State for the State of Tennessee and Mark Goins, Coordinator of Elections of the State of Tennessee v. Tracey E. George, et al: Filed in Williamson County Chancery Court on September 1, 2015. Assigned to Williamson County Judge Michael W. Binkley. An attempt to overturn Amendment 1.
- Pro-life Statutes - Adams & Boyle, et al v. Slatery, Dreyzehner et al: Filed in U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee on June 25, 2015. An attempt to overturn our newly created pro-life statutes.
- Texas Challenge - Supreme Court case Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole 2016. Challenging Texas abortion regulations such as licensure and inspections.
- AUL Amicus Brief - Americans United for Life (AUL) amicus brief the Texas Supreme - 2016. We need this to influence the court's decision in the Texas case to not overturn the Texas laws.
- In addition, Planned Parenthood is doing several things to fight back against the LiveNation videos.
The United States is hardly recognizable from just the time I was born. You can help by supporting our local crisis pregnancy center, Wilson County Right to Life, Tennessee Right to Life and you can send emails or plan to come support our legislative agenda to ensure that no fetal body parts are ever sold in Tennessee. Also, our federal representatives just sent a bill to the President's desk to defund Planned Parenthood of federal dollars - which he vetoed. Please email each of them your thanks and tell them that you will be there with your support when the try again!