NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Tennessee Democrats plan to introduce legislation to change the state’s abortion ban.
Several Democratic state senators and representatives outlined their plans in a press conference held in Nashville on Tuesday.
“We must act,” Rep. Gloria Johnson (D–Knoxville) said. “We have to restore access to all reproductive health care as soon as possible. The consequences of doing nothing are too high.”
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a federal judge allowed Tennessee’s “heartbeat” abortion law – a ban on abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy – to take effect.
Another law that bans nearly all abortions will go into effect in mid-August. The law does not make exceptions for rape, incest, or sex trafficking.
“Let me say it again, women and children will die in pregnancies forced on them by politicians,” Johnson said. “That’s legislative violence against women.”
Johnson and other Democratic members of the General Assembly announced that their first attempt at changing the law will be to codify privacy and health protection previously guaranteed under Roe v. Wade.
If that isn’t successful, they plan to introduce individual bills to change specific aspects of the law. One would add legal exceptions for the health and well-being of mothers and for victims of rape, incest, and sex trafficking.
“There are tragedies that are going to happen in the short-term unless we make amendments to the current trigger ban that goes into effect in August,” said Sen. Jeff Yarbro, the Senate Democratic leader.
The legislation would also add patient-doctor privacy protections for telehealth care and repeal criminal statutes targeting doctors who provide medically sound care to their patients.
Sen. London Lamar (D-Memphis) acknowledged that getting the Republican-dominated General Assembly to codify Roe v. Wade will be a “longshot,” but said it will “send a message that we stand in support of abortion access in this state.”
A recent Vanderbilt University poll of Tennessee voters showed that 80% were OK with abortion being either completely legal or legal under certain circumstances, such as rape or incest.