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Haslam Signs New Abortion Regs

48-hour waiting period and new oversight of clinics take effect in July

A pair of intensely debate abortion bills passed by the Tennessee General Assembly have been signed by Gov. Bill Haslam.

On Monday, Haslam inked a measure requiring women seeking abortions to wait 48 hours after having consulted a physician before undergoing the procedure. Senate Bill 1222 was sponsored by Rep. Timothy Hill and Sen. Mae Beavers, both Republicans. It passed mostly along party lines last month in the House 79-18, and on a straight party line vote in the Senate, 27-5.

On May 8, the governor signed House Bill 1368, which requires new state regulations for any facility in the state that performs more than 50 abortions a year. The measure was sponsored by Mt. Juliet Rep. Susan Lynn and Sen. Joey Hensley of Hohenwald, also both Republicans.

The governor hasn’t issued a formal statement on either bill. When asked for comment earlier this month, Haslam indicated he supports the state taking a more active role in regulating clinics.

“I think that what the Legislature felt like on those, in terms of having regulatory oversight there, that that’s a medical procedure that is being done that I think most Tennesseans would say that’s a good thing, to make certain that they are safe and clean,” Haslam said on May 4, prior to signing either bill.

Both HB1368 and SB1222 were passed by the Legislature in reaction to voters last November approving an amendment to the state’s constitution granting government express authority to regulate abortion. Haslam supported Amendment 1, which passed with 53 percent of voters in favor. Amendment 1 declared: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”

A bill proposing to require pregnant women seeking abortions to view an ultrasound of the fetus beforehand was discussed in the General Assembly but withdrawn.

A poll released last week by Vanderbilt University showed 52 percent of respondents favor the ultrasound mandate. The poll also showed 60 percent of Tennesseans support the 48-hour waiting period requirement.

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