Update on Pro-Life Amendment 1
Federal District Judge Kevin Sharp announced on Wednesday that oral arguments will begin on April 5 in the lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood Board Chair Tracey George against the people of Tennessee. In their suit, pro-abortion activists claim that the state's method of counting votes on Amendment 1 favored supporters of the amendment and violated the voting rights of pro-abortion Tennesseans who opposed it. The trial had previously been scheduled to begin on March 8.
Second Lawsuit Targets Newly-Enacted Protections
A second lawsuit is also pending, brought by the owner-operators of unlicensed abortion facilities in Bristol and Nashville. This case challenges the recently enacted protections made possible by the passage of Amendment 1 and include a requirement that abortion facilities be inspected and licensed by the Department of Health, informed consent and a 48-hour waiting period for women and girls considering abortion, and a requirement that abortion providers hold admitting privileges at a local hospital.
Because two of the TN statutes are similar to those currently being challenged at the U.S. Supreme Court, both sides have agreed to delay hearing of the case pending the outcome of Whole Woman's Health v Hellerstedt. Of course the outcome of that case is also unclear following the untimely passing of pro-life Justice Antonin Scalia.
Effect of Pro-Abortion Lawsuit on Legislation
With Amendment 1 and four key pro-life protections under attack in the courts, pro-life advocates must be cautious not to take steps that could result in unintended harm to efforts to defend the amendment and statutes. Tennessee Right to Life is urging restraint in pursuing additional legislation that might amend the laws currently being challenged. Tennessee's Attorney General Herbert Slatery is working hard to defend Tennessee's pro-life policies and we should endeavor not to make his job any more difficult.
Strengthening Oversight of Abortion Facilities
That said, Tennessee Right to Life is working carefully to support legislation which will not impede the above efforts. We strongly support passage of the Governor's proposal to strengthen reporting requirements by abortion facility operators, increase inspections of these facilities and ensure that the remains of unborn children cannot be bought or sold following an abortion in Tennessee. We will be providing further details as this and other pro-life measures begin moving through the legislative process.
Thank you for your help and support to make these gains possible. Please make the lawsuits and legislation a matter of prayer and ask others to do the same.