For Immediate Release: July 13, 2020
Governor Bill Lee Signs Extreme Anti-Choice, Anti-Freedom Bill into Law as Reproductive Freedom Faces Unprecedented Threats Across the Country
Today anti-choice, anti-freedom Governor Bill Lee signed into law a cruel and sweeping measure (SB 2196/HB 2263) that effectively outlaws abortion in the state of Tennessee.
In addition to banning abortion before many people even know they’re pregnant, the law includes an exhaustive list of provisions meant to chip away at and ultimately end the right to abortion. The ACLU, Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America have filed litigation and abortion bans found in the new law have already been temporarily blocked in federal court.
Among the law’s provisions are bans on abortion at almost every stage of pregnancy; a forced ultrasound mandate; a ban that requires interrogating women about why they’re ending a pregnancy; and criminalizing doctors who provide abortion care. The law carries no exceptions for rape or incest.
The timing of the legislation serves as a stunning display of Lee’s misplaced priorities — and his commitment to an extreme ideological agenda — in the midst of a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases that may force the state’s largest county to roll back reopening efforts. Lee’s signing of the bill follows anti-choice politicians’ efforts to ram this legislation through overnight on the eve of Juneteenth.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue release the following statement in response:
“Anti-choice, anti-freedom lawmakers in Tennessee’s state legislature pushed a bill effectively banning abortion under the cover of darkness, while the entire country grapples with an unprecedented pandemic and overdue uprising against entrenched white supremacy. And now, Governor Lee is joining these extremist lawmakers in ignoring the cries of constituents in order to prioritize banning the right to access abortion. In a time of crisis, they remained laser-focused on removing the right of Tennesseans to make decisions about their own health, lives, and families.
The hypocrisy and cruelty could not be more clear. But it’s not surprising: Governor Lee and his fellow anti-choice extremists have proven time and again that they’re more than willing to trade our fundamental freedoms in furtherance of their out-of-touch ideological agenda. NARAL’s members in Tennessee will never stop fighting to protect these freedoms. NARAL stands in solidarity with the litigating organizations fighting this legislation in the courtroom and will continue to work to expose the true agenda of the anti-choice movement, whose priorities stand in stark contrast with the values of the 77% of Americans who support the legal right to abortion.”
NARAL recently released a new report, “Accurate and Unbiased? A deep dive into how the media covers abortion in the US,” conducted by Global Strategy Group, that includes key findings on how major US news outlets cover abortion and illuminates best practices when covering abortion (such as avoiding using medically inaccurate or inflammatory language such as “heartbeat” bill without context or explanation.)
Anti-choice, anti-freedom politicians who introduced this legislation specifically said their goal was to give the state “multiple shots” at ending Roe v. Wade. Their objectives are clear: control women and restrict their freedom to make their own decisions about pregnancy, effectively outlawing abortion and threatening doctors who provide abortion care with criminal punishment.
Tennessee legislators jammed through this extreme bill late at night in June, with the hastily-scheduled vote taking place after midnight. Anti-choice lawmakers in the state have a track record of going out of their way to attack reproductive freedom — last summer they called a special hearing on a bill that would ban abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest.
Reproductive freedom is under attack in the United States like never before. While the recent Supreme Court decision in the June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo case was a reprieve for now, the threats to reproductive freedom loom large. Anti-choice extremists have shown time and again that they will stop at nothing to advance their dangerous ideological agenda, and in the June v. Russo ruling, Roberts has made it clear that the Court is still looking for ways to help them get their way.
The anti-choice movement has spent decades working overtime to decimate access to abortion, state by state, law by law. Since 2011, anti-choice politicians have pushed nearly 450 laws restricting reproductive freedom through state legislatures, despite the fact that American public overwhelmingly believes decisions about pregnancy should be made by women rather than politicians — including 94% of Democrats, 79% of Independents, and 59% of Republicans.
NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates and chapters are dedicated to protecting and expanding reproductive freedom for all. For more than 50 years, NARAL has worked to guarantee that every woman has the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. Since 1969, NARAL has made history, grown to over 2.5 million members, and met the moments that have defined this fight with action, power, and freedom. In recognition of its work defending our constitutional right to choose, Fortune Magazine described NARAL as “one of the top 10 advocacy groups in America.”