NASHVILLE, Tennessee – The day after the ‘Heartbeat Bill’ was sent by the Senate Judiciary Committee to “summer study,” the Senate sponsor of the bill Mark Pody said about Tennessee Right To Life, “It’s very disappointing that they would be the ones standing in the way.”
Sen. Pody (R-Lebanon), in his introduction of the Heartbeat Bill on Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee said in the nine years he had been in the legislature, “This is probably the most important piece of legislation I’ve brought this far.”
After more than an hour of testimony and questions and answers from two expert witnesses – Dr. Brent Boles, a Murfreesboro-based practicing obstetrician/gynecologist who has delivered over 7,000 babies and attorney and President of Family Action Council of Tennessee for more than 10 years, David Fowler – the vote to send the bill to summer study passed by a vote of 5 Ayes, 3 Noes and 1 Pass, as reported by The Tennessee Star.
The following day, Sen. Pody told The Star that they were positioned to do something about the 200 babies a day aborted in Tennessee, but now it has been postponed until August before there can be more discussion about it and “next year before we can consider doing something about it.”
Gravely, Sen. Pody added, “I think that these lives that we were in a position to save and we let go, that will be accounted for at some point.”
To the question of whether Tennessee Right to Life (TNRTL) , the state’s oldest and largest pro-life organization according to its website, had given guidance as to a bill they could support, Sen. Pody said no. He did make it clear that that TNRTL did oppose the bill and that their concern is the battle that might ensue.
“However,” advised Sen. Pody, “this bill with the amendment was constructed so that it would go to court and stand up.”
Continuing his explanation, “This argument has been proposed by the Supreme Court in the past. We’re taking the argument that they suggested we look at, and that is the argument of personhood.”
Sen. Pody went on to cite two areas in our state that say we have to look at this as personhood.
“The first,” said Pody, “is we have to look at personhood if you’re a medical doctor. You have to consider that baby in the womb as a person and treat them as such. And they have to treat that baby as a person while in the womb.”
“The second is law enforcement and our judicial system. It says that if there is a fetal homicide and that baby is killed and whether the mother survives or doesn’t survive, if that baby is lost, there’s charges that are going to be brought against that criminal.”
Continuing the reasoning, “So we have two departments in our state that already have to do this, and we’re already recognizing this as personhood. We just have to hear that in the Supreme Court, which has never been heard before.”
Making a point that opponents of the Heartbeat Bill neglect mentioning when discussing bills that failed legal challenges in other states, Sen. Pody said, “So, this is something brand new that the other heartbeat bills in other states have not addressed. We looked at what was going on with other heartbeat bills, why they were not getting the traction we were hoping they would get and this bill addressed.”
Speaking to how opponents dealt with this particular piece of legislation, Sen. Pody expressed his disappointment and frustration.
“This is something brand new and those that didn’t read the bill or didn’t understand it properly were making snap decisions and it’s disappointing when there’s attorneys that are saying this. It’s disappointing when attorneys from organizations would stand there and say that this is what was going to happen and they haven’t even read the bill properly. So, it’s very frustrating to have this when we’re all supposed to be on the same side fighting for life.”
Sen. Pody’s version of the bill was amended from that which passed the full House more than a month prior on March 7.
He also met with the state’s Attorney General, and “I specifically asked him if there was language or things I needed to tweak to make this more constitutional or something that would make it easier for him and there was nothing offered.”
Sen. Pody said he asked the Attorney General a specific question, “What do I need to do to make this bill easier for you to protect, argue or fight.”
When he didn’t give anything, nothing he was offering, and no “No this will not work,” or “Here’s the language that we’ve got to put in,” said Sen. Pody, “I felt we were in good shape because he had already looked at this.”
Sen. Pody said he was also very surprised at the committee, because “I thought we had overwhelming testimony from very, very credible expert witnesses that said here is why this is life, here’s how you determine this is life and underneath the 14th Amendment this life needs to be protected, not only by Tennessee but by the entire United States. This needs to go to be heard not only in the state of Tennessee but in every state as well as the Supreme Court.”
Alluding to the shocking positions of other states who have proposed taking the life of babies after they are born and Tennessee not doing anything to respond, Pody said, “I will tell you when hearing of states like New York, Virginia and the things that are going on where they don’t care and they are going the opposite way, we’re going along with it.”
Tennessee Right To Life’s last statement on the organization’s website expressing concern about the heartbeat abortion ban in its current form is dated March 5 – prior to the Heartbeat Bill passing the House and being amended by Sen. Pody as it moved through that body.
After the Heartbeat Bill was sent to summer study and another bill, the Human Life Protection Act, passed during the same Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, Tennessee Right To Life issued a statement praising the Committee’s actions.
The Human Life Protection Act is a “trigger law” that will go into effect when and if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court.
In order for Roe v. Wade to be overturned and for the Human life Protection Act to be of any use, a law needs to pass in a state that can stand up to the lower court challenges and make its way to the Supreme Court.
Specifically to Tennessee Right to Life, Sen. Pody said if they feel they don’t want to take this bill up, “I’m not asking for them to do anything. I’m not asking them to put a nickel to it.”
“But, it’s very disappointing that they would be the ones standing in the way.”
“I’m definitely saying if we can’t at least agree that there’s a heartbeat and that means life and we’re going to protect that, what are we doing? What is it that we are doing today to help defend these lives?”
In addition to Sen. Pody, the House sponsor of the Heartbeat Bill, Representative Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough), Senator and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Mike Bell (R-Riceville) who made the motion to send the Heartbeat Bill to summer study, another legislator who has worked on the Heartbeat Bill as well as David Fowler of the Family Action Council of Tennessee were all asked by The Star if they had been approached by Tennessee Right To Life with a proposal on how to make the Heartbeat Bill – or a similar bill – one that they could support. All five responded to the question with the same answer: No.
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