A new proposed Tennessee Bill grants biological fathers to prevent an abortion of unwanted babies, overruling the mother's intentions to have the baby aborted.
Two Tennessee lawmakers have proposed a bill that allows biological fathers to hinder a pregnant woman from aborting their unborn babies. If the bill is passed, it will take effect on July 1 this year.
Sponsored by Republican Senator Mark Pody and Republican Representative Jerry Sexton, the Senate Bill 494/HB1079 would "give a man who gets a woman pregnant the veto power to an abortion by petitioning a court for an injunction against the procedure," USA Today reported.
The SB494/HB1079 also "requires the petitioner to execute a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity that is not subject to being rescinded or challenged."
The move to pass this law comes after Tennessee lawmakers passed restrictive abortion laws in 2020, which was met with legal challenges from abortion rights groups.
Sen. Pody was concerned that under the current abortion laws, the biological fathers have little to no control over the woman's decision to abort unwanted babies. He said, "I believe a father should have a right to say what's gonna be happening to that child. And if somebody is going to kill that child, he should be able to say, 'No, I don't want that child to be killed. I want to able to raise that child and love that child.'"
According to The Blaze, the Tennessee bill will not require the father to "provide DNA evidence to prove that the petitioner is the biological father of the respondent's unborn child."
Sen. Pody explained that under the new bill, no DNA evidence is required if the pregnant woman acknowledges the petitioner's fatherhood. He also explained that under the law, the man who claims fatherhood will be responsible for child support and other parental obligations and "under any circumstance" cannot rescind or challenge the paternity of the child after the baby's birth.
The bill, which makes an exception for mothers whose lives are in medical danger, does not indicate any exception for cases when the child was conceived as a result of rape or incest, unlike other restrictive abortion laws.
The proposed Tennessee bill that gives biological fathers the power to stop women from aborting unwanted babies has immediately drawn criticism from abortion rights advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee. ACLU Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg called the proposed bill an "unconstitutional legislation" born out of a "condescending mindset" that believes "men should control women's bodies."
Sen. Pody's proposed Tennessee bill that gives biological fathers the power to stop women from aborting unwanted babies was passed on second consideration on February 11 and has already been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Rep. Jerry Sexton sponsored the Tennessee bill in the House of Representatives, where it passed first consideration. In July 2020, Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a heartbeat bill into law that prevents abortions to be carried out once a heartbeat has been detected.
Gov. Lee said during the 2021 State of the State address that his state is "one of the most pro-life states in America" and that he is committed to protect unborn children, "the most vulnerable in our community." He retiterated, "I am strongly pro-life, and I will continue to defend this position."