Tennessee governor signs bill that penalizes adults who help minors have abortions | Tennessee

Tennessee’s governor has signed into law legislation designed to prevent adults from helping minors get abortions or receive gender-affirming care without parental consent, proposals that will likely face immediate legal challenges when they take effect later this year.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee quietly signed the bills Tuesday without comment. However, the governor’s actions were not unexpected. During his tenure, Lee has enacted sweeping restrictions on gender-affirming health care for young people and defended Tennessee’s near-total ban on abortion, while emphasizing his opposition to the procedure.

Both laws will go into effect on July 1.

Lee’s actions mean that Tennessee will soon become the second state in the nation to enact legislation that supporters say will prevent any adult who “intentionally recruits, harbors, or transports” a pregnant minor within the state from having a abortion without the consent of the minor’s parents or guardians.

Ambulance drivers, emergency medical services personnel and other common transportation services are exempt under the law.

Those convicted of breaking the law would be charged with a class A misdemeanor, which requires a prison sentence of nearly a year.

“Fathers have the right to be involved in the well-being of their daughters. “The abortion industry has no right to keep parents in the dark at a time when their daughters are so vulnerable and could possibly be in danger,” Stacy Dunn, president of Tennessee Right to Life, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Tennessee is so far the first state to pursue criminalizing adults who help minors receive gender-affirming care without parental consent.

The bill mirrors much of the same language as the so-called anti-abortion trafficking proposal, where violations could range from talking to a teenager about a website about where to find care to helping that young person travel to another state with abortion restrictions. more flexible gender. affirming care services.

Last year, Idaho became the first state to enact a so-called “abortion trafficking” law, but a federal judge has since temporarily blocked the law after reproductive rights groups filed a lawsuit challenging it.

The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Lee earlier this month warning him that “there is nothing” in the statute that “suggests that a court will view his content-based criminalization of speech and expression more favorably,” since They described the bill as “unconstitutionally vague.”

At the same time, Planned Parenthood CEO Ashley Coffield told reporters that her organization was “consulting with our attorneys about how to comply with the law if we need to comply with it or if we can challenge it.”

Tennessee’s version does not contain exemptions for minors who may have been raped by their parents or guardians. Instead, the new statute says that the biological father of the pregnant minor cannot bring a civil action if the pregnancy was caused by rape.

Like Idaho, Tennessee prohibits abortions at all stages of pregnancy, but there are exemptions in cases of molar pregnancies, ectopic pregnancies, and to eliminate a miscarriage or save the mother’s life.

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