NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A few weeks ago, the Population Health Subcommittee nearly unanimously passed a nine-page amendment that laid out detailed changes to the current abortion law.
But last week in the full Health Committee, lawmakers introduced a new two-page amendment drawing much of that language back.
“It pretty much says a woman has to be on her deathbed and you have to execute all other options before you can make the decision to terminate a pregnancy if her life was on the line,” Sen. London Lamar (D-Memphis) said.
That left some to ask: what changed?
“As you go through the process here, you start in subcommittee,” Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton said. “As you get to full committee, the Senate joins in, interest groups from outside join in. Things are going to change.”
Depending on who you ask, you might hear not much has changed.
“I don’t think this was a drastic change from the original bill,” House Majority Leader William Lamberth said. “The original bill made small adjustments to the law we already have on the books, which is legally defensible.”
But even the house sponsor, Rep. Esther Helton-Haynes (R-East Ridge), admitted last week in committee that Tennessee Right to Life was behind this change at some level.
“This is the same amendment that Tennessee Right to Life has approved on and signed off of,” Helton-Haynes said.
The comment left Democrats frustrated with what they say is bowing to special interest lobbyists.
“Who are you really listening to? Are you listening to the people of Tennessee, the voters, the women who are depending on you to push good policy?” Lamar said. “Or are you listening to the Right to Life health organization?”
The bill hits the House floor Monday night where it’s expected to pass.
The big challenge it faces is Tuesday afternoon in the Senate Judiciary Committee.