Dear Tennessee Star,
After reading the article in the TN Star regarding HB 108, the “Heartbeat Bill,” I want to emphasize the significance of the position taken by TN Right to Life. To the dismay of pro-life supporters across the state, including myself, we cannot allow this legislation to pass. Let me explain.
Anyone who pays attention to the long game of politics knows that, when a controversial bill on any issue is passed, it only takes moments for the opposition to file a lawsuit. Just as in 2014 when pro-life Amendment 1 was passed, Planned Parenthood had filed a lawsuit in federal court within days.
What many don’t realize is the cost of fighting against one of these lawsuits is far more than dollars. While the majority of people in America may very well be pro-life, the pro-abortion lobby is powerful and well-funded. And we know what is at stake if we lose in the courts. It’s not just a loss, it’s a setback – of several steps.
When the Roe vs. Wade decision was handed down in 1973, states across the nation began establishing laws to regulate the abortion industry. Under a Democratic ruled General Assembly, Tennessee was still able to pass laws that required informed consent, a waiting period, and health department inspections of abortion facilities.
These laws stood until 2000 when TN was one of 16 states targeted by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood challenging our laws as unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court ruled that there was an inherent right to abortion in our State Constitution. It took fourteen years to override that ruling with passage of Amendment 1. How many lives were lost in Tennessee to abortion while working to overturn this court ruling?
Filing a lawsuit is the modus operandi of the pro-abortion lobby. In 2015, when the Tennessee General Assembly passed another law requiring the Department of Health to inspect abortion facilities in the state, the owners of these facilities filed another lawsuit. Three years later, we’re still waiting for a ruling, and some abortion clinics are still uninspected.
We already know that pro-abortionists will file a lawsuit if the “Heartbeat Bill” passes. Sadly, we already know the ruling, too. Current federal law regarding abortion is clearly outlined in the Roe vs. Wade decision of 1973 – that women have a “right” to an abortion and that no state in the union can pass laws that prohibit it. The closest we have gotten is to prohibit abortion after the age of viability of the baby, at approximately 23-24 weeks of gestation. The best we can do under these circumstances is to regulate the abortion industry.
We’ve had success here! We know that abortion numbers are down in Tennessee since we passed constitutional laws requiring informed consent and a 48-hour waiting period. While there are abortions in the state, we are making progress. Unfortunately, we have to run the marathon to win, not a sprint.
It’s important to note that not only does current federal law permit abortion, the US Supreme Court is also in favor of abortions. There are currently only four pro-life justices on the Court. If a pro-abortion case gets to the Supreme Court, it will have a resounding affect. The pro-life movement has still not completely overcome the Roe vs. Wade ruling that is now 45 years old. What will a second ruling mean for the unborn?
The smartest, most prudent move for the pro-life leader, activist, and legislator regarding the “Heartbeat Bill” is to wait. Legislators often feel like they need to “do something” on the pro-life front. Yet doing “something” may not be the best thing.
For now, until the make-up of the Supreme Court changes favorably, our state legislators would do well to wait.
Church Outreach Associate
TN Right to Life