NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Amid nationwide unrest and a global pandemic that wrecked the state budget, Tennessee lawmakers advanced one of the strictest abortion bans in the country as most Tennesseans were asleep Friday and largely unaware the GOP-dominant General Assembly had taken up the controversial proposal.
The bill’s passage shocked Democratic lawmakers and reproductive rights advocates who had been assured for weeks that the anti-abortion measure would not be considered in the Senate.
Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights — the plaintiffs in the case — declared that Tennessee was the first state to pass an abortion ban since the coronavirus outbreak hit the United States.
Also tucked in Tennessee’s 38-page bill is a requirement that women seeking an abortion undergo an ultrasound and have the doctor describe and display the image to her.
After George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked nationwide protests and unrest, Tennessee Republicans stirred more outrage locally by spiking a resolution this week for Ashanti Nikole Posey, a Black teen shot and killed this year.