Tennessee Lawmakers Introduce Bill That Would Give Men The Power To Veto Abortions

Tennessee Lawmakers Introduce Bill That Would Give Men The Power To Veto Abortions

If a woman violates the court order preventing her from terminating her pregnancy, she may be held in civil or criminal contempt and punished.

Image Source: Getty Images/ AntonioGuillem/Representative

A bill was proposed by two Republican Tennessee lawmakers that would allow a man to veto an abortion of a woman he got pregnant. If passed, this could allow a man to request an injunction that would bar a woman from having an abortion, reported Huffington Post. The proposed law, SB0494 in the state Senate and HB1079 in the state House of Representatives, states that: "A person may petition a court with jurisdiction over domestic relations matters to request an injunction to prohibit a woman who is pregnant with the person's unborn child from obtaining an abortion." Once the petition is filed, a court hearing will be held within 14 days where the parties must establish that the petitioner is the biological father. But a DNA test will apparently not be required. He will also have to prove that the woman would have with "reasonable probability" opted for abortion of the fetus.


The bill also states that "If the parties are not married, the petitioner has executed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity." If these arbitrary conditions are proven, the court will issue an injunction that will prevent the woman from terminating her pregnancy. If a woman violates this injunction, "the court may hold the respondent in civil or criminal contempt and punish the respondent in accordance with the law." No exceptions would be made for rape or incest, according to KVUE. Men dictating the reproductive rights of women has been a subject of debate for a long time.


In 2019, nine US states passed anti-abortion bills that they called "heartbeat bills." According to The New York Times, these bills would prevent abortions after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, which is around the time doctors can usually start detecting a fetal heartbeat. These bills would be a direct challenge to the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade and the constitutional rights of the patients. CNN followed up on these bills and found that, thankfully, they were being blocked by judges arguing that the bill would "inflict immediate and irreparable harm on plaintiffs' patients by violating their constitutional rights, threatening their health and well-being, and forcing them to continue their pregnancies to term against their will."


Francie Hunt, executive director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood, reiterated the unconstitutionality of the Tennessee bill, calling it an "insulting and dangerous bill." In a statement, Hunt said, “Nobody should have the power to make health care decisions for someone else — not a judge, a partner, and certainly not a rapist regardless of paternity. The priorities of Tennessee’s politicians are drastically out of step with constituents struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. The legislature needs to stop trying to distract the public from their leadership failures with increasingly stigmatizing abortion restrictions.” 


This bill was proposed by Senator Mark Pody and Representative Jerry Sexton who intended to bring it into effect on July 1, 2021, “the public welfare requiring it,” as they claimed. They had previously also tried to ban gay marriage in the state. The Cut reported that even if the bill was passed and enacted, it would almost certainly be held unconstitutional. In another landmark abortion from 1992, in the ruling of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court had stated that a woman did not have to give her spouse notice before going through an abortion. Currently, access to abortion in Tennessee and other Southern states is almost non-existent. Abortion care is still health care and women in these states do not have access to it.





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