Well cut off my legs and call me Shorty: the Tennessee Senate has resoundingly defeated, by a vote of 22-9, the Bible-as-State-Book bill that was passed by an substantial majority in the House yesterday (55-38). This time, though, the bill was defeated—or rather, sent back to committee—with the help of Republicans. I think even those dimwits finally realized that a). it would make the state look really dumb, and b). the bill was unconstitutional and would have embroiled Tennessee in an expensive legal battle, which they’d ultimately lose. Even a blind pig can find its swill.
The victory isn’t unalloyed, though, for, according The Tennessean, the committee is going to work on it more. Like the Laearnian Hydra, its head will rise again; as the paper notes, “Referring the bill to committee allows supporters to pick up the campaign against next year. Norris [the Senate majority leader] suspects they will.”
Unfortunately, vindicating my prediction that Tennessee Republicans can get up to mischief on many fronts at once, the state senate also passed a bill on Wednesday mandating a 48-hour waiting period for abortions. This is likely to pass the House, and Governor Bill Haslam appears to approve. The stipulations:
One measure, introduced by Sen. Mae Beavers, a Republican from Mt. Juliet, would require women seeking an abortion to wait 48 hours after receiving in-person counseling by a physician before she could seek an abortion.
The bill specifies the information the physician performing the abortion must provide to a woman, including:
• Confirmation of pregnancy and approximate gestational age of the fetus
• The availability of numerous public and private agencies available to assist her if she chooses not to have an abortion
• The risks of pregnancy and abortion
• If a woman is more than 24 weeks pregnant, the physician must inform a woman that her fetus may be viable and if a viable child is born during the course of an abortion, the physician has a legal obligation to take steps to preserve the health of the child — although there are no abortion clinics in Tennessee that provide abortions past 16 weeks of gestation.
But wait! There’s more! With that bill you get still more restrictions!
A second measure approved with no debate on Wednesday — introduced by Sen. Joey Hensley, a Republican from Hohenwald — would require any facility or doctor’s office performing more than 50 abortions annually to be regulated as an ambulatory surgical treatment center, a designation that comes with specific requirements about the physical building that some abortion providers may not be able to meet.
Four abortion providers meet those standards. They include one clinic in Nashville, two in Memphis and one in Knoxville. A fifth abortion provider that met the standards closed in 2012 after lawmakers passed a requirement that physicians performing abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals.
Three abortion providers that are not registered as ambulatory surgical treatment centers include The Women’s Center in Nashville and clinics in Bristol and Knoxville.
This, of course, is just another way to limit abortion. All I can say is that Tennessee gets the legislators it deserves. After all, they won via the democratic process.