First Abortion Regulations Proposed After Passage of Tennessee Amendment

by | November 18, 2014

By Kyle Veazey

A state House member has introduced legislation that would enact a mandatory ultrasound and waiting period for women seeking abortions, the first formally proposed restriction on abortion after this month's passage of Amendment 1.

Rep. Rick Womick, a Republican from rural Rockvale in Rutherford County, introduced House Bill 2 Thursday.

The bill would require an abortion provider to perform an ultrasound between 72 and 24 hours before the abortion. The provider must offer the woman the opportunity to view the ultrasound, or describe it to her if she chooses not to view it. It also requires that the heartbeat be made audible.

The regulations would not apply in a medical emergency. The bill defines that as a condition that would call for an immediate termination of the pregnancy due to concerns about the health of the mother.

Womick's bill was filed nine days after Tennessee voters, by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent, approved an amendment to the state constitution that would allow legislators to enact such restrictions.

Womick introduced the same bill in 2013, but it didn't make it out of committee.

Ashley Coffield, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis, said Friday the bill "is designed to demean and shame women, and is an intrusion into women's personal lives."

Coffield said Planned Parenthood provides women with counseling and information about their options, and, "We all want women to have the information and support they need to make a carefully considered decision about pregnancy."

Twenty-four states have some variation of a pre-abortion ultrasound regulation, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Womick did not return a message or email Friday. But on election night, Nov. 4, Womick said this on Twitter: "To the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, God's people overcame your lies and money! The lives of women and the unborn will be saved in Tennessee!"

More abortion-related bills are expected before the General Assembly convenes on Jan. 13, 2015.

In a Friday email, Tennessee Right to Life president Brian Harris said his group's focus would be on "restoring several common-sense provisions including informed consent for women and girls considering abortion, a short waiting period to prevent coerced abortion and, most importantly, a requirement that abortion facilities be licensed and inspected."

(c)2014 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)