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VOL. 39 | NO. 12 | Friday, March 20, 2015

Anti-abortion bills advancing in House

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NASHVILLE (AP) — Proposals seeking to restore abortion laws that were struck down by a state Supreme Court decision advanced in the House on Tuesday despite criticism from opponents who say the measures could put more stress on woman facing difficult circumstances.

The two bills passed the House Health Subcommittee on voice votes.

One measure is sponsored by Republican Rep. Matthew Hill of Jonesborough and would require a 48-hour waiting period before an abortion.

The other, sponsored by Republican Rep. Susan Lynn of Mt. Juliet, would require facilities or physician offices to be licensed as ambulatory surgical treatment centers if they perform more than 50 abortions in a year.

In a ruling in 2000, the state Supreme Court threw out mandatory 48-hour waiting periods for abortions, along with requirements that clinics provide detailed information about the procedure and that all but first-term abortions be performed in hospitals.

Another proposal that would require women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound exam was delayed in the House Health Subcommittee on Tuesday, and may not come back this session.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters earlier Tuesday that he has concerns about the bill and would prefer for lawmakers to stick with restoring abortion laws that were struck down by the state Supreme Court.

"I'm not saying it's not (constitutional), but I think our folks have some concerns there and we'll be digging into that," Haslam said.

Companion bills to both proposals that passed the House subcommittee are waiting to be discussed in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Democratic Sen. Sara Kyle of Memphis said those measures, as well as the ultrasound legislation, would make life difficult for women already facing difficult decisions.

"Women should be left to make their own decisions with their families, their doctors and their faith — not meddling politicians," Kyle said in a written statement. "Instead of playing politics with health care, we should talk about the things that would change lives, like better access to prenatal care."

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