Right to Life announces support for rival update to abortion law

Sen. Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville) attends a floor session on March 6, 2023. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The state chapter of Right to Life is speaking out in support of an amended version of a bill by Sen. Ken Yager (R-Kingston) and Rep. Esther Helton-Haynes (R-East Ridge) stating that treatments of ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages don’t violate the Tennessee’s sweeping abortion ban. Yager’s bill is different than the measure advanced by House Republican leaders and Sen. Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville) that has been vocally opposed by the anti-abortion group.

Here’s the release from Tennessee Right to Life:

NASHVILLE — Tennessee Right to Life is in support of Senate Bill 983 sponsored by Senator Yager as amended by Amendment #005051. We have maintained throughout this session that we would work with legislators to clarify the Human Life Protection Act without weakening it, and that is what this amendment does. 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.

Furthermore, by using an objective standard, it assuages EMTALA concerns by the Attorney General while also ensuring proper care is given to both the mother and the baby.

As opposed to other bills that have been filed and/or presented this year, the clear and succinct language in this amended legislation helps doctors and patients without creating unnecessary exceptions or deleting large sections of pro-life laws in the Tennessee Code. Pro-life legislators and pro-life Tennesseans can be confident that these changes will not weaken the intent of the legislation that was passed in 2019 to protect the right to life of all unborn children in our state.

Tennessee Right to Life would like thank Governor Lee, Lieutenant Governor McNally, and Senator Yager for working with us and pro-life legislators to ensure the best possible clarifying language for the amendment to this bill. We thank them for standing with us in defense of the Human Life Protection Act and for believing, as we do, that clarification is possible without weakening the law. We are hopeful that House members will join in support of the amended version of SB983.

This amended language will protect the integrity of the Human Life Protection Act and allow Tennessee law to continue to protect our most vulnerable citizens. We encourage members of the General Assembly to support this legislation.


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