Bills of Personhood, Abolition, Proferred in Tennessee

At least two bills purporting to end abortion have been proffered in the state of Tennessee this year.

HB 0895, introduced by Mark Pody on February 8, seeks to redefine the word “person” in Tennessee statute and code in an attempt to bring the preborn under protection of current state law – a strategy commonly referred to as “personhood”.

The concept of personhood was pointed out by Supreme Court Justice Blackmun in the Roe v. Wade opinion, who stated “If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment.” Thus, the personhood of the preborn child is the single point on which personhood advocates hinge the debate.[1][2]

Seeking to ban abortion implicitly has received mixed reviews among personhood proponents over the last decade, with attorneys working alongside some of the more successful personhood groups admitting to a certain amount of ambiguity with the strategy, and some leaders in the movement moving towards the ideas of interposition and nullification.

According to one personhood advocate, “Until we take a stand against judicial and federal tyranny, likely we will see the status quo continued. Personhood could provide a solid platform with which to do so.”[3]

The senate version is SB 754, introduced by Mae Beavers.

Another effort to ban abortion in the state of Tennessee comes in the form of a bill of abolition intended for “repealing the statutes authorizing and regulating human abortion in Tennessee and recognizing the rights of all preborn children from conception until live birth or natural death; affecting criminal offenses for violation.” This bill would amend Tennessee Code Annotated Title 39.

The bill, promoted by Abolish Abortion Tennessee, has largely been ignored by pro-life and pro-family groups and politicians and is now being promoted through a petition drive across the state.

Abolitionists claim that this type of legislation would be needed after any successful personhood action and that the personhood bill adds an unnecessary step.

“The basis of personhood is to work within Roe to overturn Roe, whereas we are saying that the courts have overstepped their bounds and need to be defied”, a spokesman for Abolish Abortion Tennessee stated. “The time for justice is now. We’ve played around with the courts for forty years and it’s getting us nowhere”.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that, whatever the case, the Supreme Court and Federal Government will have to be defied in order to establish justice for the preborn.

[1]Roe v. Wade
[2]“‘Personhood’ Silver Bullet to Kill Roe v. Wade?”
[3]Personhood Arkansas Facebook Page

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