The House Health Committee will hear HB883 today. Two weeks ago, Tennessee Right to Life asked pro-life citizens to contact Committee members and ask them to oppose this bill. As originally written, HB883 would have gutted the Human Life Protection Act which protects the right to life of all unborn children and made it unenforceable.
Since then, much effort has gone into drafting language that would keep Tennessee’s law strong while adding certain clarifications. Amendment #5705 does that. It would explicitly clarify that treatments of ectopic pregnancy and miscarriages are in no way considered criminal abortions under the Human Life Protection Act, and it would change the affirmative defense to an exception for those times when the mother’s life is in danger. We are confident that these changes will not broaden the scope of Tennessee law or allow for more abortions in our state.
This pro-life amendment will be added to HB883 in the committee today and will delete the original language of the bill. The same language is expected to be added to HB778 when it is presented in subcommittee next week.
Tennessee Right to Life supports House Amendment #5705. This amendment mirrors the one offered in the Senate (originally to SB983) that would clarify but not weaken the Human Life Protection Act. We are grateful that this language has been adopted by the House sponsor and will be the amendment that now makes the bill on both HB883 and HB778.
It is the preference of Tennessee Right to Life that HB778 would be the bill used to advance the pro-life language in order to avoid confusion caused by earlier drafts of HB883. However, that decision is up to House leadership and the sponsor of the bills. Our main concern is that the amendment language is allowed to go on the bill, and that it is passed without changes.
Tennessee Right to Life also supports amendment 5763 which is expected to be presented in today's meeting. It would require quarterly reporting of abortions in the state to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House and others.
Tennessee Right to Life, pro-life legislators, and pro-life Tennesseans are grateful for the efforts that have gone into Amendment #5705. It is a testament to the strength of pro-life citizens across the state who let their voices be heard so that this language could be used to transform these two bills (HB883 and HB778) into legislation that is acceptable to the pro-life position. As lives continue to be saved in our state, it will have been well worth the effort.
Tennessee Right to Life is grateful to all those who worked on Amendment #5705 that will clarify but not weaken current Tennessee law and all who joined us in the pursuit to keep the Human Life Protection Act the strongest pro-life law in the country.