Image Credit: Gov. Bill Lee / Facebook
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
The new almost total ban on abortions is scheduled to go into effect in Tennessee on August 25. As that date approaches, abortion rights advocacy groups are gearing up to try and push the General Assembly to create exceptions to that ban while Republican leaders continue to avoid vocalizing a firm stance on the issue.
The new law does not currently include any exceptions to abortions in the state, including abortions in the case of rape, incest, or child sexual abuse. Additionally, those who provide abortion services are subject to felony criminal charges.
One group pushing for exceptions is the Sexual Assault Center, located in Nashville. They plan to lobby the General Assembly to provide exceptions for victims of sexual assault who wish to receive an abortion.
Jessica Barfield, vice-president of the Sexual Assault Center, says “[We want] to help victim-survivors and assist them in the process, let them regain autonomy and the control of their body that was taken away during the rape and incest that happened.”
The Tennessee Right to Life organization has expressed opposition to abortion exceptions under any circumstances.
In an interview with Tennessee Lookout, legal counsel and lobbyist Will Brewer said, “Let’s show that mother love and compassion and not create a double atrocity by terminating the life that’s inside of her on top of the horrific instances that have already occurred.”
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Republican leaders, however, have yet to take a solid stance on possible exceptions to the new legislation.
Governor Bill Lee has avoided questions regarding exceptions, specifically those for underage pregnancies. He only stated that he was committed to implementing the new law.
Neither Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally nor House Speaker Cameron Sexton would say whether they would allow for exceptions or hold firm on the total ban.
Sexton noted a hope that leaders would “discuss how we can make resources like contraceptives more readily available and free.”
Adam Keinheider, spokesperson for McNally, said, “Lt. Governor McNally is very sensitive to the tension between the human leader of the unborn and the clear violation of human dignity and autonomy involved in the heinous crime of rape.”
He also noted that McNally “stands against restrictions against contraception and has voted to make access easier. He believes this is the most philosophically consistent and humane way to prevent pregnancies in these cases.”
The law does provide the possibility for physicians to defend an abortion procedure if it is performed to keep the mother from dying or being left with a serious injury.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com