Protesters at hearing for Tennessee abortion ban
Throngs of protesters showed up at the hearing for Tennessee’s so-called ‘heartbeat bill’. These pro-choice advocates now have some interesting allies in some Tennessee Republicans.

Pro-life activists in Tennessee are now split on whether “near-total” state bans on abortion will ever clear the U.S. Supreme Court.

Some Tennessee Republicans are mulling an amended version of the heartbeat bill that failed to pass the legislature last spring. That legislation, which the legislature won’t vote on until at least January 2020, seeks to ban all abortions in which a fetal heartbeat is detected by doctors. That’s as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Exceptions will be made only for medical emergencies or when the mother’s life is at risk. The bill is similar to legislation that is on the books in eight other states.

Surprising Opposition

Naturally, pro-choice activists oppose the measure. But surprisingly, so do some on the pro-life side. Indeed, some Catholic bishops aren’t exactly on board. Catholic leaders fear that the legislation, with its near-certainty of being overturned in court, could actually set the entire pro-life movement back. They worry that the progress they’ve made under the Trump administration would all but disappear.

And they aren’t the only ones with concerns of legality. Tennessee Republican Lt. Gov. Randy McNally was questioning the legal viability of the proposed heartbeat bill back in March. He warned it would put the state on the “losing side” of a court battle. And Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life, recently insisted: “there is not a single state where a heartbeat bill has been upheld or enforced. Not a single child has been saved or a mother helped as a result of this legislation.” Even Republican state Senator Mike Bell said that “so far, these bills have not fared well in the courts. In other states, the heartbeat bill has been struck down and states have been forced to pay attorney fees to Planned Parenthood… My conscience would not allow me to put Tennessee on that path.”

Still, this isn’t the first time that sweeping abortion legislation has had a surprising opponent.

Wait Them Out?

The proposed amendment may be one of the most aggressive in the country. It would define life as beginning at conception, confirmed with the hormone HCG, which certain pregnancy tests can detect.

But more than a matter of definitions, this might be a case of playing the long game. Jim Bopp, general counsel for the National Right to Life Committee, stressed that the Supreme Court makeup to overturn Roe v. Wade will not truly be right until Trump is re-elected along with a Republican-majority Senate in 2020.

“What do we know about the current Supreme Court?” he asked rhetorically. “We know there are four justices who have already voted to reaffirm Roe v. Wade and if given the chance, they would redefine Roe v. Wade as gender discrimination so that every single regulation that touches abortion, conscience clauses, funding, you name it would be declared unconstitutional.”

“There is no majority on the Supreme Court that we can identify that would uphold such a thing. Look, divine intervention is God’s decision, not ours. He can do it in His time when He believes the time is right. Absent divine intervention, we have to use our human reason, our human powers to figure out what is the best course.”

In Tennessee, that might include “trigger legislation” entitled the Human Life Protection Act, which would effectively ban most abortions in the state in the event Roe v. Wade was ever overturned – something Tennessee Right to Life supports.

The Debate Must Go On

Needless to say, Democrats in Tennessee oppose the measure. Gloria Johnson, a Democratic state Representative from Knoxville said that she doesn’t think that “the constitutionality of the bill matters to the group of folks trying to pass it.” And Francie Hunt, executive director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood, suggested that the passage of abortion bills are “ego-driven rather than what’s good policy for people in Tennessee.”

One thing is for sure: The abortion debate rages on– although it’s rare to see such discord in the typically unified Republican ranks. What are your thoughts? Are faith groups justified to be cautious about going all-in on abortion? Or does saving unborn lives – as they insist is their ultimate goal – defy such calculated political strategy?

17 comments

  1. tom b says:

    Respectfully…. a woman must have the right to terminate a pregnancy…if there is a karmic effect, she will have to deal with it in her next life…period…also, it remains incredibly disingeuous for “right to life” advocates not to provide homes for children born against the wishes of the mother…it is hypocrisy…Peace…Tom B

  2. Martha Knight says:

    People who believe abortion is wrong, no matter what, have a right to say so, and even to use hyperbole like calling fetuses babies or children, and referring to abortion as murder. Free speech rights include some propaganda, and the expression of opinions even when they are outrageous or foolish. But people who oppose abortion do not have a right to expect government to impose their opinions and choices on others. Super-Christians (as you see yourselves), evangelize! Try to persuade others to adopt your point of view. But do not expect that your opinions should be turned into laws that limit the choices and rights of others who do not hold your views.

    1. Dark Gray says:

      “People who believe abortion is wrong, no matter what, have a right to say so, and even to use hyperbole like calling fetuses babies or children, and referring to abortion as murder.”

      Do you believe that such people also bear a responsibility when others hear their “abortion is murder” cries and take them to their logical conclusion? I.e., “if abortion is murder, then I have a moral obligation to kill these murderers before they take another innocent life.”

    2. Angel says:

      Really? And what do you say about this?? Sounds like murder to me…..
      At a hearing on Capitol Hill on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, Congressman Chris Smith issued the following statement:

      In a Florida abortion clinic, Sycloria Williams delivered a live baby at 23 weeks. The clinic owner took the baby, cut her umbilical, threw her into a bio-hazard bag gasping for air and put the bag in the trash.

      This would have been the end of story, no justice for this child, had an anonymous call to the police had not been made. Another call was made. Three calls and one search warrant later, the police found the body of the child stuffed into a cardboard box.

  3. MO says:

    Disingenuous [sp]? Hypocrisy? Based on what facts? Or just popping off based on general anti-religious zealotry? I’m not particularly religious, certainly don’t adhere to any religion or religious dogma, but here are some facts: There are an estimated 3,000 adoption agencies in the United States, public and private. And while it’s difficult to find reliable statistics, some sources estimate that there are about 2 million couples currently waiting to adopt in the US — which means there are as many as 36 waiting families for every one child who is placed for adoption.

  4. DrF350 says:

    Anti-choice politicians are a wild bunch. They are determined to erode American freedoms at any cost, so not only are they anti-American, they’re also anti-Christian. If we give in to this, what’s next? No more 2nd amendment?

    1. Lionheart says:

      ….or no more 1st Amendment.

  5. John A Anderson, CD, CIF Mons ON says:

    If you don’t want a woman to have an abortion, then make birth control free. If you don’t want a woman to abort, adopt all the children currently languishing in foster care or orphanages. If you are not willing to support either of these measures, and only care about the infant until it is born, and not afterwards, then you are NOT pro-life, you are pro-birth.

  6. Carrie says:

    This is typical crap from a bunch of bigoted old white men who want to control women…..They should crawl back into their neolithic caves and vanish from the face of the planet!

    1. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp, MSW, ADS, OM says:

      Yes, Carrie, they are old white cavemen who will never experience a contraception failure.

    2. Lionheart says:

      The scriptures are full of bigoted misogynistic men of the patriarchal order. They would like us all to believe that a “man” created the universe, and a “man” came to save the world from sin, caused by a “woman” disobeying a man.

      The good news is…..it’s all a myth, but sadly, men would like to keep the tale going because it suits their agenda of putting women in their place.

      🦁❤️

    3. Angel says:

      hmmm, you call them bigoted, yet here you are being racist AND bigoted! lol. oh the webs we weave through nastiness.

      1. Carrie says:

        You are either trying to be humorous or you are very republican…when I call someone out as a bigot, turn the tables and call me one? You really must correct your twisted life!

  7. William Waugh says:

    It is all about class, status and economics. Get pregnant, doesn’t matter how, and god willing, you will ever and forever be, stuck in the class you were pregnant in. …….oops there goes another one!! Ha ha!! Raise your kid and you are no longer exceptional competition in the workforce. …..I know there are always qualified exceptions but it does serve to thin the herd…..kinda like “whack a mole”!!!!……this stuff is actively real folks. If you wonder what goes on in the heads of conservatives against abortions, this is a good start. That’s right. Struggle with your baby you were forced to have. Not going to get any help from us. Whack!!

  8. Secretary3rd says:

    To the female of any age go on welfare, bled the State. Let the State pay for your housing, education, food.
    When the cost keeps going up for all the unwanted children tax payers will vote these clowns out of office.

  9. Mary Katherine PMMJLPS Heimberg says:

    Hi,

    Does abortion hurt the mother? Yes, it always has. Does legal abortion hurt the mother less. Yes, usually it does.

    If legal abortions hurt the mother less, is that the right thing to do? Yes. Yes unless at one time, no one ever aborted a child.

    Has there ever been a time, when abortions did not happen? No.

    For you Christians, did God not allow you divorce as a Mercy? Yes. Yes He Did. For you Christians, is not an abortion a Mercy of God? Yes, yes it is.

    Look at the times in America, before abortions were legal. What happened to many women then? False abortionists killed and wounded many a mother. It’s a mercy, A Mercy of God’s as both(divorce and abortions) are in lessening the pain.

    LOVE, (a Special Kind)

  10. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp MSW says:

    Don’t approve of abortions? Don’t have one. Don’t like contraception? Don’t tell others what to do and not do in their bedrooms. Women have been having abortions throughout the ages, so why do stupid men who can’t get pregnant, grit their teeth and hiss all the time about abortion. If you don’t have a uterus, STFU.Life beings at first breath, just like your Bible says in Genesis.

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