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Proposed Forced Ultrasound Legislation Withdrawn in Tennessee

March 8, 2013

Forced Ultrasound and Post-Ultrasound Waiting Period for Abortion Proposed in Tennessee – My analysis of the bill from last month.

Jim Tracy Withdraws His Ultrasound Bill – includes discussion and speculation on SJR127, the proposed state constitutional amendment that would allow more restrictions after passage and allow a total ban in the unlikely event that Roe were overturned. SJR127 going to a vote by Tennesseans in 2014, so that’s not likely to turn out well for reproductive justice in this state.

The sponsor of the forced ultrasound bill made a statement like they were withdrawing this bill in order to “focus all of our efforts on promoting its [SJR127’s] passage on the 2014 ballot.” One, we expect SJR 127 to pass. Two, they probably didn’t want to distract the voting public with actual debate on a real example of how egregious the restrictions they want to use SJR 127 to enact actually are (hey, like forced medical tests!). Three, even if passed, the forced ultrasound bill might have been unconstitutional as is – until SJR 127 passes. Ugh.

Abortion Ultrasound Bill Shelved by Sponsors – let me just highlight the quote from Rep. Rick Womick:

“Given the fact that most abortion clinics in Tennessee already administer an ultrasound before performing an abortion, it only makes sense that we as legislators should be allowed to ensure that the pregnant mother is given the opportunity to see the video and hear the heartbeat,” added Representative Womick.

That is such utter bullshit. There’s a tremendous gap between “a medical provider might use their judgment that an ultrasound is needed and a woman might consent to that” and forcing all women to have them regardless as a hoop to jump through to obtain a legal medical procedure. Providers who do conduct ultrasounds right now could already offer women the chance to see/hear, whereas the forced ultrasound bill would have required them to either see it or listen to a description even if they didn’t want to – even if they were rape or incest victims, or pregnant with a desperately wanted child they were unable to carry to term. Also, somehow I doubt that when Womick refers to “the pregnant mother” he’s talking about the two thirds of women who are already mothers when they have abortions – he’s simply framing women in terms of who he thinks they should be, what they can produce, and how he’d like to legally require that production.

Sponsors of Tennessee Forced Ultrasound Bill Turn to Constitutional Amendment Instead – This is SJR 127 getting some attention from national-level coverage at a repro rights info depot. So we’ll be waiting for all y’all from away to help us defeat that next year, okay?

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