NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Metro Councilwoman filed a piece of legislation that would ask the police department to put abortion investigations at a low priority level and request that other members would look for avenues to build back women's rights.
Delishia Porterfield — District 29, of southeast Nashville — filed the resolution, which will go before the full body July 5. In 30 days, the 2019 Human Life Protection Act would go into effect in Tennessee. The overturn came in the face of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization in the Supreme Court of the United States on Friday, which prompted the overruling of Roe v. Wade. More than a thousand protested the ruling in Nashville.
As of Tuesday, state laws rendered abortion effectively illegal in Tennessee except in the case of the mother's livelihood. This came as the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that would enact a six-week abortion ban, known as the heartbeat bill. As a result, Planned Parenthood providers performed their last abortion Tuesday morning.
"We want this fight taken to the state level until our reproductive rights are restored," Porterfield said. "This is a Nashville for everyone. We want to make sure everyone in our community is protected. We want to make sure Nashville supports health decisions that are best for them, and that they make those decisions themselves. We want to make sure city resources aren't being used to investigate abortions when there are so many needs in Nashville. We should not be minding the business of another person's uterus."
It requests that the Metro Nashville Police Department make abortion investigations and arrests a low priority and limit city funds and city staff from being used to investigate, catalog or report suspected abortions. Already, Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk said he wouldn't prosecute anyone for abortions, backing up a statement he released in 2020.
"The intent of the resolution is to support reproductive health rights and to ask that city resources will not be used to harass, intimidate or discriminate against individuals who may choose to explore all reproductive options, including abortions," Metro Councilman Bob Mendes said. Mendes is a cosponsor of the resolution.
At least 8,689 pregnant persons induced termination of pregnancy in 2019, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. That is the latest year of data available. Of that figure, 1,341 pregnant persons induced termination of pregnancy in Davidson County.
Gov. Bill Lee said he was grateful for the court's decision to lift the injunction for the heartbeat bill and move forward with making abortion illegal in Tennessee.
"The Sixth Circuit upheld our heartbeat law, marking another significant protection for unborn children in our state," Lee said. "I thank Tennessee Attorney General Slatery for his tireless efforts and commend the court’s swift action on behalf of Tennessee families."
Regardless of the praise from the governor for the lifted injunction, Porterfield said there was a strong misconception about people being pro-life.
"When you're pro-life, you're pro-education, pro-health care and to good-paying jobs," she said. "You take care of the people that are here. You make sure that kids can go to school without being afraid a gunman is going to come into their school. This is not about being pro-life. This is about controlling individuals, and we see legislation too many times that want to control women, transwomen and nonbinary individuals. So we have to make sure we send a strong message. We are not going to allow people to continue to control us and keep making decisions for women and our bodies."