Senator Lamar: Abortion Amendment Doesn't Go Far Enough to Protect Doctors, Patients

Advocate Andy

State Senator laments potential for criminal prosecution of doctors helping women in crisis pregnancies

As a committee of the Tennessee State Senate advanced a bill that would amend the state's abortion ban and potentially minimize criminal charges for doctors who perform abortions in some circumstances, a legislator from Memphis is saying the move does not go far enough to protect doctors and mothers.

State Senator London Lamar of Memphis noted that the proposed amendment, which advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, still allows for criminal charges to be filed against a doctor who performs an abortion in cases where a mother's life may be in danger.

“The bill that passed committee today was written by an anti-abortion lobbyist," Lamar said. "In the final draft, there is no input from doctors, nurses or anyone who has been pregnant.

“The legislation endangers the lives of women by perversely increasing legal protections for doctors the closer their pregnant patients get to death.

“That’s an irresponsible and unconstitutional burden to put on women and healthcare providers. And it is exactly why doctors and women should be empowered to make life-saving decisions without government interference.”

The current law provides no exceptions for abortion after six weeks. This means that any doctor who performs an abortion for any reason after a pregnancy reaches six weeks will be charged with a felony. The law allows an "affirmative defense" to be raised if the doctor can prove the mother's life was in danger without the procedure.

The amendment to this law relies on standards of "reasonableness," but the result of a felony charge would be the same.

Lamar says doctors shouldn't have to wait until a mother's life is in extreme jeopardy before taking action to save her.
Senator London LamarPhoto bySenate Democrats

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Andy Spears is a middle Tennessee writer and policy advocate. He reports on news around public policy issues - education, health care, consumer protection, and more.

Nashville, TN

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