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Bill to block transporting minor for abortion headed to Lees desk

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(The Center Square) – A bill making it a misdemeanor punishable by just less than a year of imprisonment for assisting in bringing a minor across state lines for an abortion without parental permission is headed to the desk of Gov. Bill Lee.

An amended Senate Bill 1971 was concurred by the Senate 25-4 after passing the House 74-24.

Sen. Paul Rose, R-Covington, told members the bill’s goal is to protect parental rights and prevent other adults from assisting a minor in circumventing Tennessee law in obtaining an abortion.

The amended bill exempted common carriers transporting passengers during regular service – such as by bus, train or airplane – and also exempts ambulance drivers.

Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville said he was disappointed the amendment didn’t fix the issues he has with the bill, including the “vagueness of terms” and “clear intent to target travel between states and the clear intent to target communications and First Amendment communication of information.”

“I don’t think this has done the job and this remains a pretty bad bill,” Yarbro said.

The offense would be called abortion trafficking and can only be avoided with signed and notarized parental consent.

A Tennessee trigger law passed in 2019 went into effect 30 days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade.

“This bill is a direct on me, on my family, on my friends, on my network that support Tennesseans that are pregnant and vulnerable minors that need access to care to go across state lines and receive the necessary care,” said Rep. Aftyn Behn, D-Nashville.