Speaker Sexton Calls TN Right To Life’s Efforts To Protect Abortion Ban “Intimidation” And “Uncalled For”

Image Credit: capitol.tn.gov

The Tennessee Conservative [By Kelly M. Jackson] –

In 2019, The Tennessee General Assembly wrote and passed into law, a bill that should Roe V Wade ever be overturned, would trigger criminalization of all abortions performed in the state of Tennessee with very narrow exceptions. And even those exceptions would need to be justified in a criminal trial, due to the “affirmative defense” clause embedded in the legislation. 

Essentially, as is, physicians would not be able to perform an abortion in any instance except in those where they are convinced based on their medical expertise in good faith, that the life of the mother would be in imminent peril if the procedure is not performed. There are also no exceptions for those who perform the procedure on a patient, if it is for the reason that the patient threatens to self-abort, or to end their own life by other means, if they don’t get the abortion they are seeking. There are also no exceptions for pregnancies that are the product of a rape or incest. 

Additionally, there is no criminal penalty for those who seek an abortion, and are successful in their endeavors. 

HB1440, along with it’s companion bill, SB0857 sponsored by Representative Iris Rudder (R—D39-Winchester) and Senator Ferrell Haile (R-D18-Gallatin)  as introduced, exempts from the offense of criminal abortion an abortion that is performed on a patient whose pregnancy is the result of rape or incest if the abortion is performed prior to a certain gestational age; requires the physician performing the abortion to confirm that the patient reported the offense to the appropriate law enforcement agency and submitted to a forensic medical examination prior to the procedure; adds a mandatory minimum sentence of three years incarceration for filing a false report of rape or incest for the purpose of obtaining an abortion. – Amends TCA Title 37; Title 38; Title 39; Title 56; Title 63; Title 68 and Title 71.

As is seen in the new amendment to the law, there would now be considerations for rape and incest, but that has caused a need to make a provision for those who may make a false report of those crimes in order to obtain an abortion.  In order to prevent the use of a false report of those crimes in order to obtain an abortion, a criminal penalty that could carry as many as three years incarceration is also included.  

Another bill being presented this session to alleviate the culpability of a physician who chooses to perform an abortion is HB778, sponsored by Representative Esther Helton-Haynes (R-D30- East Ridge, Part of Hamilton County) and her co-sponsor on the Senate side Senator Ken Yager (R-D12-Kingston) presenting the companion bill SB0983. 

HB778/SB983 as introduced, limits the offense of criminal abortion to only apply to elective abortions; defines elective abortion as any abortion that is not medically necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or to prevent serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman. – Amends TCA Title 37; Title 39; Title 56; Title 63; Title 68 and Title 7. 

Critics of this bill which include Will Brewer of Tennessee Right To Life, assert that the language in the bill will leave opportunities for elective abortions to be practiced under the cover of the term “medically necessary” since it will be left up to the provider to determine what that means, and it is too subjective a standard to be an effective deterrent. 

Brewer said “That’s virtually un-prosecutable in a court of law if a doctor were to abuse this statute… Once one doctor is let off the hook in a criminal trial, a doctor who abused the nature of this law, it would be open season for other doctors who wanted to perform bad-faith terminations to do so.”

The big question on many people’s minds is why would a General Assembly that partnered on such strong legislation in 2019, knowing that should Roe ever be overturned, legislation that included a partnership with Tennessee Right To Life, would now in a post Roe world be softened by some of the same Republicans that championed the 2019 legislation and even benefitted from it’s passage into law?

Some wonder whether those who once advocated for such strongly worded legislation ever believed that it would ever become law while they were still serving in office, and now they are under pressure to make a “correction”, and it looks as though they may actually go through with it. 

On February 14th, during the meeting of the House Population Health Subcommittee, Will Brewer from Tennessee Right to Life, conveyed to the subcommittee that his organization would be delivering a negative score on their report card for the proposed legislation. 

The report cards Brewer is referring to, can carry influence with voters, and receiving a negative score can have a damaging effect on elected officials who identify as conservative, but then contribute to legislation that contravenes the values of those who likely put those same officials into office. 

This statement provoked an appearance from Speaker Cameron Sexton, who characterized Mr. Brewer’s statement as a threat, an intimidation tactic to persuade the subcommittee into complying with the requests of Tennessee Right To Life.

Sexton called Brewer’s efforts “uncalled for,” which is puzzling since Mr. Brewer’s actual job is to advocate for the values that define his organization, and inform the public of what is taking place in the General Assembly that is contrary to those values. 

Sexton went on to say, “I’m down here not because I think this vote is going to be close, I’m down here because something happened that I never experienced in my time down here which is somebody on a committee testifying trying to intimidate our members… I’m here to support this bill to show you all the support on this committee, whoever votes for it, that I stand with you and not having the intimidation coming before this committee.”

Interestingly, during the February 15th meeting of the House Civil Justice Committee while hearing testimony against HB0001, a bill which aims to ban transgender medical treatments given to Tennessee children, Kathy Sinback, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, stated that the ACLU of TN would sue if the bill received passage. Sexton did not make an appearance to speak out against that “intimidation.”

In essence, it seems that between all the proposed bills in this new session, the seemingly once strong convictions the General Assembly showed for the protection of the unborn, just prior to an election year,  are nowhere to be found in a world post Roe.

About the Author: Kelly Jackson is a recent escapee from corporate America, and a California refugee to Tennessee. Christ follower, Wife and Mom of three amazing teenagers. She has a BA in Comm from Point Loma Nazarene University, and has a background in law enforcement and human resources. Since the summer of 2020, she has spent any and all free time in the trenches with local grassroots orgs, including Mom’s for Liberty Williamson County and Tennessee Stands as a core member.  Outspoken advocate for parents rights, medical freedom, and individual liberty.

5 thoughts on “Speaker Sexton Calls TN Right To Life’s Efforts To Protect Abortion Ban “Intimidation” And “Uncalled For”

  • February 16, 2023 at 7:07 pm

    Sexton is right. Extremists will lose votes and if Repubs lose and Dems get control, they will allow abortions at any time. I won’t vote for anyone who is an extremist about this. There were 2o million abortions since Roe v Wade. 90% of them would have been liberals and the Dems would now be in total control.

    • February 17, 2023 at 12:15 am

      You Conservative??
      I know a fellow who’s father was his grandfather. He’s glad he wasn’t aborted.
      It’s an innocent human life at conception.

  • February 16, 2023 at 10:29 pm

    No Compromise.

    If you believe that God has fearfully wonderfully made ALL babies, no matter what the circumstances, then we cannot continue to support bills that kill babies.

    The Declaration of Independence provides for Life which is an unalienable right. 

    I fully understand that rape and incest are horrific acts, but killing the baby,  which is a result of these acts, does not heal the victims of these acts. It actually adds more pain to the horror they have already experienced.

    We need to be guardians of life in ALL circumstances ( this includes those rare times a mother’s life is in jeopardy if a pregancy is continued. Our Legislators covered that in the trigger law). It is so unfortunate that our elected leaders do not fully understand their duties and oath to protect ALL rights provided in our Constitution. 

    Who really decides who should live or die?
    How is a Physician, who takes an oath to “Do no Harm,”

    capable of deciding what is incompatible with life? Does not nature itself determine when life ends with a person, even when all interventions have been given?

    The actual numbers of emergencies that occur do not warrant the killing of a baby. These incidents are extremely low,  and do not justify such a broad allowance of discretion that is not medically sound nor morally justified. Again a Mother’s life is protected in the trigger law if there is no other options.

    We need to make sure voters know who really supports life. An overwhelming majority of voters support life so…. I do not have a concern that Liberals will take over if conservatives do not compromise on these issues.

  • February 17, 2023 at 12:11 am

    TNGOP product RINO Sexton.

  • February 18, 2023 at 9:20 pm

    I truly hope this man is “uncalled for” in the next election.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *