Tennessee State Senator Submits Mandatory Ultrasound, Waiting Period Bill
Tennessee state Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) introduced a bill earlier this week that would force women to have a mandatory ultrasound no less than 24 hours before having an abortion.
Senate Bill 632 [PDF] would require women seeking an abortion to be shown a transabdominal ultrasound and listen to any detected heartbeat. If a woman refuses to see the ultrasound, an ultrasound technician must describe the image. Women will also be offered a printed copy of the ultrasound. After having the ultrasound, a woman must wait at least 24 hours before proceeding with an abortion.
Tennessee House Democrats issued a statement condemning Senator Tracy's bill. Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) said "If Sen. Tracy is truly interested in preventing abortions, he should take the money that we will have to pay to defend this potentially unconstitutional law and put it toward preventative contraception, prenatal health care, and pre-K education... As a woman and a teacher, I wish my fellow legislators would focus less time on trying to play doctor, and more time on helping women gain access to quality health care, a good education, and higher-paying jobs." Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) said, "Tennessee's women should not have to suffer more intrusive laws that violate their right to privacy just so Sen. Tracy can polish his conservative credentials in his race against Congressman Scott DesJarlais [for U.S. Representative]... Republicans have spent the past three years complaining about how the government shouldn't stand between a patient and their doctor, but with this legislation that is exactly what they are trying to do."
Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee CEO Jeff Teague spoke with local news outlet WKRN about the proposed bill: "These are decisions, private medical decisions that women should be able to make without any interference or intrusion from the government... telling women information in cases when they don't want to hear it, forcing women against their will to have the information is designed to shame them, to coerce them and with the intent for them to change their minds about decisions they've already made, is never a good idea."
According to the Tennessean, mandatory waiting periods have been struck down in Tennessee before as a result of a privacy clause in the state's Constitution. If Senate Bill 632 were to pass, the measure would likely see legal challenges.
Media Resources: Daily News Journal 2/6/2013; WKRN 2/6/2013; Tennessean 2/5/2013; Senate Bill 632
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .