SB1236, Tennessee’s Heartbeat Bill, ends “This act shall take effect July 1, 2019, the public welfare requiring it.”
Monday, July 1, 2019. You might be very familiar with that day. Depending on when you’re reading this, you’re either living that day or just about to start.
Instead of rejoicing in a wonderful bill going into effect limiting abortion, Tennessee is actually facing an increase in abortions due to women from Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia traveling to a state they perceive as more permissive of abortions. Tennessee. We wrote and sourced in another article that Choices in Memphis has seen an 8% increase in abortions and Planned Parenthood in Knoxville has reported a 20% increase in abortions.
Tennessee’s Heartbeat Bill, SB1236, is a remarkable piece of legislation not only for its content, but because of the nature of its journey. David Fowler, President of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, shared in an article on April 26 that one of the key difficulties in passing the heartbeat bill was that there was no lobbyist walking it through the processs. We tend to dislike lobbyists, but for better or worse, lobbyists work to keep legislators on the same page, help reconcile bill versions between the Senate and the House, and act as a general source of information legislators can talk to when they have questions about a bill.
For SB1236 to get the treatment it did without a lobbyists and for Representative Van Huss’s House version (which is significantly different from the Senate version) to pass the House without a lobbyist is actually remarkable. With that said, it is even more remarkable that the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Senator Mike Bell, defied Tennesseans who made their wishes clear. Senator Bell motioned to send the Bill to Summer Study. Many preborn babies were condemned to death by this action.
Equally shocking was Lt. Governor Randy McNally’s handling of Senator Pody’s motion to recall the bill from the Senate Judiciary Committee using Senate Rule 63 so that it could be directly voted for on the Senate Floor without passing a committee vote.
Defying normal Senate Rules and Senator Pody’s explicit request, a roll call vote was not taken on the rule 63 motion. 8 Senators insisted on their votes being recorded: Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma), Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains), Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), Shane Reeves (R-Murfreesboro), Paul Rose (R-Tipton & Shelby Counties), Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro).
One Senator, Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), had informed Senator Pody ahead of time that he would vote with him. Unaware the other eight Senators were having their votes recorded, Senator Kelsey left without having his vote recorded. Senator Pody directly relayed this information to Matthew Nowlin, Director of Conservative Christians of Tennessee.
McNally claimed that he aborted the Heartbeat Bill in this manner because the committee system was not to be violated on his watch. This is ridiculous and offensive. McNally said he acted to preserve a system – the committee system. Someone close to the Lt. Governor should inform him that the committee system isn’t at risk because one bill every 20 years bypasses the committee system with a proper usage of Senate Rules. The Senate votes to accept rules when it convenes after an election, and Rule 63 is in place for a reason.
One of the primary reasons given by Republican leadership for its confusing opposition to the Tennessee Heartbeat Bill was that the bill would be legally challenged – and that that would be expensive. Despite Liberty Counsel agreeing to handle litigation for Tennessee’s Heartbeat Bill all the way to the US Supreme cost pro bono, Republican leadership continued to falsely claim that anticipated legal expenses for this bill meant it wasn’t ready to be passed. One wonders if they honestly think Tennesseans wouldn’t be willing to shoulder the burden of legal expenses that would save so many lives.
Few Tennesseans have a problem with paying for homicide detectives, prosecutors, and a court system designed to prosecute and punish murderers. Why, in a pro-life state, would there be a problem with the government acting to protect life from violence? This is, after all, one of the few legitimate functions of government.
It is incredibly important that you show up to the prayer walk on August 12 at the State Capital. Christians from across the state will be walking the Capital Grounds, from noon-2:00 p.m., praying that God would perform a work and end abortion in Tennessee. We will wear red shirts, and we will attend the summer study as space permits. For more information, please see our info page on Tennessee’s Heartbeat Prayer Walk.
Please, answer this call.